Rights of Way Registration

Ceisteanna (645)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

645. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the latest date to register existing rights of way; his plans to extend the date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5740/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Under the Registration of Deeds and Title Act 2006, the Property Registration Authority, PRA, was established as and from 4 November 2006. The PRA replaces the Registrar of Deeds and Titles as the registering authority in relation to property registration in Ireland and, subject to the above Act, is independent in the performance of its functions.

I am advised by the Property Registration Authority that the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 changed the law in relation to certain easements and profit à prendre, that is, those acquired by prescription and that it is not necessarily an obligation for all rights of way to be registered by 2021.

Further information on Easements and Profits à Prendre Acquired by Prescription under Section 49A is available on the website of the Property Registration Authority, www.prai.ie. In addition, arrangements have been put in place by all bodies under the aegis of my Department to facilitate the provision of information directly to members of the Oireachtas. The contact email address for the Property Registration Authority is reps@prai.ie.

Urban Renewal Schemes

Ceisteanna (646)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

646. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount of funding allocated to Kildare County Council under the urban regeneration and development fund for the Celbridge southern relief road and second Liffey crossing; the items covered in the funding; if the funding has not been determined at this stage, when his officials will meet with Kildare County Council officials to agree the work and funding required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5015/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, URDF, was launched as part of Project Ireland 2040 to support the compact growth and sustainable development of Ireland’s five cities, regional drivers and other large urban centres.

The URDF grant in respect of the successful proposal in question, as with all other successful bid proposals, has been approved in principle subject to agreement of subsequent technical details with my Department and may be regarded as an initial investment of support for the project. Given that this is a Category B proposal, a provisional funding amount of €400,000 has been determined to enable initial technical and preparatory work and my Department intends to further engage with Kildare County Council to agree on the terms and conditions of the funding allocation and to discuss the progression of the proposal in 2019 and onwards.

As the process of finalising agreements with successful applicants is currently ongoing, project conditions will only be concluded after this process which can, in part, involve commercially sensitive information or proposals subject to a formal consent or acquisition process at a later point.

It is expected that a second call for proposals for 2020 funding will be launched later in Q1 2019 and a workshop for applicants will be organised in advance. It is envisaged that this application period will run until summer 2019.

Land Availability

Ceisteanna (647)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

647. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the details of land banks and public lands and sites owned by Louth County Council; the acreage of same; the locations and the size and acreage of each site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5039/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The development of publicly owned residential lands for social and affordable housing is a priority for the Government. In this context, together with developing a significant build programme on their existing residential land bank, local authorities are also required to consider the availability of land for housing, particularly social and affordable housing, within their area of responsibility.

The local authority residential land bank has been mapped on the Rebuilding Ireland land map, and is available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link:

http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/rebuilding-ireland-land-map/.

The map includes details of over 700 local authority and Housing Agency sites amounting to some 1,700 hectares, circa 66 hectares of which is in the Louth County Council functional area. The map also includes some 30 sites (comprising circa 200 hectares) in the ownership of State or semi-State bodies. The map does not include other lands that may be owned by local authorities and earmarked for non-residential purposes.

In relation to the development of Louth County Council’s residential land bank, my Department is in regular contact with the local authority regarding the accelerated delivery of social and affordable homes. A detailed breakdown of the Louth County Council social housing construction programme is set out in the Social Housing Construction Status Report which is published on a quarterly basis. The report covering the period up to end Quarter 3 of 2018 is available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link: http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-quarter-3-social-housing-construction-report/. The report covering to end Quarter 4 of 2018 will be published shortly. Further projects will continue to be added to the programme on an ongoing basis.

With regard to the delivery of affordable homes, the Government has provided €310 million, under the Serviced Sites Fund (SSF) in Budget 2019, for enabling infrastructure on local authority and Housing Agency lands to facilitate affordable housing delivery. The first call under the Fund issued to local authorities, including Louth County Council, in 2018 and while Louth did not make an application at that time, I expect to issue a further call in the coming weeks, and Louth County Council will once again have the opportunity to submit applications, as appropriate. In addition, a site at Mount Avenue, Dundalk, has been approved under the Local infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) for funding of €3.3 million for an access road, which will support 200 homes initially and potentially up to 1,200 on wider lands.

Finally, the Land Development Agency acts as a national centre of expertise in relation to the use of public lands as catalysts to stimulate regeneration and wider investment and to achieve compact, sustainable growth. It has a particular focus on securing land for social and affordable housing purposes and will be aiming to work with and support local authorities and other public bodies in this regard.

Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (648)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

648. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason the Rebuilding Ireland home loan does not accept carer's allowance as income when accessing applicants for same. [5050/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan is not, as a general rule, available to those in receipt of unemployment or other social welfare benefits. However, where there is a joint application and the primary income is of a waged or salaried nature, long-term State benefit payments may be considered. State benefit payments allowable are:

- State Pension (Contributory);

- State pension (Non-Contributory);

- Widow’s / Widower’s Pension;

- Blind Pension;

- Invalidity Pension;

- Disability Allowance.

The reason these payments are considered as assessable income for the scheme is that they are long-term payments. The inclusion of other social welfare payments, which are more short-term, would not be appropriate in determining a person’s capacity to repay a loan over a period of up to 30 years as is the case with the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan.

The long-term nature of the payment must be confirmed by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. All applications are dealt with on a case-by-case basis and are referred to the relevant local authority's Credit Committee for a final decision.

Defective Building Materials

Ceisteanna (649)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

649. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to introduce a latent defects redress scheme to help those living in badly built properties bought during the Celtic tiger period (details supplied). [5098/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In the first instance, I would like to acknowledge the stressful circumstances which the owners and residents of buildings face when defects occur in their homes.

However, in general, building defects are matters for resolution between the contracting parties involved: the homeowner, the builder, the developer and/or their respective insurers, structural guarantee or warranty scheme. It is important to note that while my Department has overall responsibility for establishing and maintaining an effective regulatory framework for building standards and building control it has no general statutory role in resolving defects in privately owned buildings, including dwellings, nor does it have a budget for such matters.

In the case of multi-unit developments, the legislative position is very clear in terms of where responsibilities rest. Under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2014 primary responsibility for compliance of works with the requirements of the Building Regulations, rests with the owners, designers and builders of buildings. Enforcement of the Building Regulations is a matter for the 31 local building control authorities who have extensive powers of inspection and enforcement under the Acts and who are independent in the use of their statutory powers. When a building is constructed and occupied, statutory responsibility for fire safety is assigned by section 18(2) of the Fire Services Acts, 1981 & 2003, to the "person having control" of the building. In multi-unit developments, the "person having control" is generally the owner management company. Under the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011, the owner management company must establish a scheme for annual service charges and a sinking fund for spending on refurbishment, improvement or maintenance of a non-recurring nature of the multi-unit development.

With regard to the effectiveness and accessibility of legal remedies for homeowners who discover defects in their homes, these are complex legal matter with potential implications for the entire legal system, as well as for the insurance industry. In this context, in February 2018, my Department wrote to the Law Reform Commission and also corresponded with those involved with the review of the administration of Civil Justice in Ireland, requesting that they consider the issue of effective and accessible legal remedies for homeowners who discover defects in their homes.

Additionally, in response to the building failures that have emerged over the last decade, my Department has advanced a robust and focused Building Control Reform Agenda, including:

- Amendments to the Building Control Regulations;

- Establishment of a shared services National Building Control Management Project; and

- The ongoing development of new legislation through the Building Control (Construction Industry Register Ireland) Bill.

These reforms have already brought, and will continue to bring, a new order and discipline to bear on construction projects, creating an enhanced culture of compliance with the Building Regulations.

Student Accommodation

Ceisteanna (650)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

650. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if there is a requirement on An Bord Pleanála to publish applications on its website which detail the student accommodation providers of 200 bed spaces or more seeking planning permission. [5099/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Applications seeking planning permission for 200 bed spaces or more are made directly to An Bord Pleanála, the board, for determination under the strategic housing development provisions.

The Planning and Development (Strategic Housing Development) Regulations 2017 inserted new provisions into the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 (the 2001 Regulations), setting out procedural and administrative matters relating to proposed strategic housing developments, as provided for under Chapter 1 of Part 2 of the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016. On foot of this, article 301 of the 2001 Regulations details the requirements for making an application for a strategic housing development (SHD) available for public inspection. It states that a copy of the application, including any environmental impact assessment report or Natura impact statement, if required, and all other documents, particulars, plans or information that accompany the application, will be made available for inspection at the board’s offices and at the offices of the relevant planning authority, from when the application is made until eight weeks following the Board’s decision on the application.

In addition, the applicant is also required to make the application, including any environmental impact assessment report or Natura impact statement, if required, and all other documents, particulars, plans or information that accompany the application available for inspection on-line on a website established by the applicant for the same period .

The regulations also provide for a weekly list of applications received and applications determined or otherwise disposed of by the board in relation to SHD cases. These weekly lists are available on the Board's website at

http://www.pleanala.ie/.

The board also maintains a list of current SHD applications on its website, which contains the links to the websites of the individual SHD applications, at

http://www.pleanala.ie/shd/applications/index.htm.

Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (651)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

651. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when a new round of funding will be made available to the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme to allow applicants that have already applied to get approved for home loans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5100/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan launched on 1 February 2018. Prior to its launch, an initial tranche of €200 million of long-term fixed-rate finance was borrowed by the Housing Finance Agency to provide funds for the scheme to local authorities.

When the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan was initially being developed it was estimated that the drawdown of loans under the scheme would be approximately €200 million over three years. From the data collated on the scheme to date, the RIHL has proven to be more successful than initially anticipated, as a result of which, the scheme would require a further tranche of funds to be borrowed by the HFA in order to enable its continuation.

My Department is currently in discussions with the Departments of Public Expenditure and Reform and Finance with regard to an extension of the scheme in this regard. When these discussions are concluded I will be in a position to make an announcement on the matter.

Housing Issues

Ceisteanna (652)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

652. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the housing supply and demand report will be published. [5110/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The latest iteration of the National Statement of Housing Supply and Demand is the subject of ongoing engagement between my Department and the Housing Agency.

The preparation of reports of this kind derived from a commitment in the Construction 2020 Strategy, published in May 2014, predating both Rebuilding Ireland and the National Planning Framework (NPF) published as part of project Ireland 2040. It has served a very useful purpose in bringing together relevant housing statistics and projecting forward likely demand.

In the intervening period, considerable work on housing supply data has now transferred to the Central Statistics Office, and the population and settlement patterns projections have been developed for the NPF based on work undertaken by the ESRI. These projections are now being followed through into the Regional Economic and Spatial Strategies and will be further reflected in development plans thereafter. One of the important components at local level in determining both supply and demand for housing, will be the proposal, in the context of National Policy Objective 37 of the NPF, for a "Housing Need Demand Assessment" (HDNA) to be undertaken for each local authority area in order to correlate and accurately align future housing requirements. This will assist local authorities to develop long-term strategic views of housing need across all tenures. My Department will be providing guidance to authorities in this regard later this year.

My Department is considering how the aggregate view of HDNA will feed into national reporting, including in particular in monitoring and assessing delivery and performance in line with NPF objectives. I envisage that this will mean that the current form of the Housing Agency's Statement of Housing Supply and Demand will evolve, to reflect the aforementioned developments. My Department will be working with the Housing Agency, the ESRI and local authorities in this regard and, in the short term, will be considering the matter in the context of the latest iteration of the Housing Agency's work, on foot of which the issue of publication will be considered further.

Approved Housing Bodies

Ceisteanna (653)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

653. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the funding an approved housing body (details supplied) received for the development of 41 apartments for older persons; the funding made available to the body for a proposed redevelopment at a site; and if funding from his Department or other State agency fell under the capital advanced loan facility payment, the long-term leasing scheme, the capital loan and subsidy scheme or the capital assistance scheme. [5118/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In 2009 my Department recouped €8.1 million to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council under the Capital Assistance Scheme in respect of 41 homes in St Anne's Court, Ballinteer, secured by an Approved Housing Body (AHB) under Part V of the Planning and Development Acts.

In December 2018, my Department received a proposal, from an AHB for a development on this site, seeking to use the Capital Advance Leasing Facility (CALF) and Payment and Availability Agreement (P&A) facility. The proposal requires significant further detail and my Department, together with the Housing Agency and the local authority, has been working with the AHB in question to assist them in understanding the requirements of such a funding proposal. My Department will consider a revised proposal as soon as it is completed and submitted.

Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (654)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

654. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if consideration will be given to amending the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme in order that persons that previously owned property but lost it during the financial downturn could be considered as eligible for such loans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5134/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan scheme was launched last year to replace the existing House Purchase and Home Choice Loan schemes. The scheme enables credit-worthy first-time buyers to access sustainable mortgage lending to purchase new or second-hand properties in a suitable price range, where they cannot obtain sufficient mortgage finance from a commercial lender.

The regulations under which the Scheme is established and the statutory credit policy, issued in accordance with the Regulations, provide that the loan is available to first-time buyers only. The regulations define a first-time buyer as having the same meaning as a first-time buyer in Section 92B of the Stamp Duties Consolidation Act 1999, which defines a first-time buyer as a person who has not individually or jointly with another person previously purchased a house or an apartment.

The regulations also provide for prohibited categories of borrowers. The statutory credit policy sets out in detail the criteria for determining the eligibility for a loan under the scheme. It specifically excludes those with a poor credit history. This is to ensure the continued viability of the scheme and to protect the interests of borrowers and the local authorities who provide the loans.

I have no plans to change the regulations or the credit policy with regard to either targeting first time buyers or the prohibition of certain categories of people. This is to ensure the effective targeting of limited resources and the continued financial stability of the scheme.

Social and Affordable Housing

Ceisteanna (655)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

655. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the work he is undertaking to develop schemes in respect of cost rental and affordable housing; and when details in relation to same will be published. [5194/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

A multi-stranded approach is being taken to the targeted delivery of affordable housing, in particular for those households earning up to €50,000 for single income households and €75,000 for dual income households.

As part of that approach, I commenced the relevant provisions of Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 last year to provide a statutory basis for the delivery of affordable housing for purchase; regulations in relation to the scheme will be made shortly. In addition, a new Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan was introduced on 1 February 2018, under which home loans, at affordable, fixed rates over the term of the loan can be made available to credit worthy home purchasers meeting the above income limits.

In order to support local authorities in delivering affordable homes, €310 million will be made available from 2019 until 2021 under the Serviced Site Fund (SSF). The (SSF) will fund facilitating infrastructure, on local authority sites. At a maximum funding rate of €50,000 per affordable home, at least 6,200 will be facilitated in total.

On foot of a first call for proposals which issued to local authorities in Dublin, the Greater Dublin Area, Cork and Galway City, approval issued for ten projects costing €43m, which will support 1,400 affordable homes, in December 2018. Infrastructure works on these projects will begin as soon as possible and delivery of affordable homes is anticipated from early 2020 onwards. Five other projects submitted are still under active consideration and my Department is working with the local authorities concerned to progress them.

A second call for proposals will issue shortly. In order to inform that process all local authorities wishing to be considered for funding have been asked to submit economic assessments of the requirement and potential to deliver affordable homes from their sites.

The Government is also committed to the introduction of a not-for-profit, cost rental sector in Ireland. Together with delivering more affordable and predictable rents, cost rental will make a sustainable impact on national competitiveness and the attractiveness of our main urban centres as places to live and work. It is estimated by the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) that rents of between 15-25% below market are achievable.

There are currently two cost rental projects at Enniskerry Road, in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown and St. Michael’s Estate, Inchicore, which will deliver 50 and 330 cost rental homes, respectively. The experience on these projects will inform a national cost rental framework under which similar projects will be rolled out on a wider scale. My Department is engaged with the National Development Finance Agency, the European Investment Bank and the LDA to develop the optimum funding and delivery mechanisms to support cost rental delivery at scale in Dublin and other urban areas.

Local Authority Housing Maintenance

Ceisteanna (656)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

656. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when Dublin City Council will receive a response to a request to assist with phase 2 of its housing insulation programme. [5195/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Exchequer funding of some €128 million has been provided to local authorities from 2013 to end-2018, to improve energy efficiency and comfort levels in over 68,000 local authority homes.

For 2019, the energy retrofitting programme has an allocated exchequer budget of €25 million. My Department will shortly be asking local authorities to submit details of their 2019 work proposals and related funding requirements for this programme, following which funding allocations will issue to all authorities, including Dublin City Council.

Land Acquisition

Ceisteanna (657, 658)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

657. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if Fingal County Council has initiated the acquisition of the necessary lands for the upgrading of the Hearse Road, Donabate, County Dublin, (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5199/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

658. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if all the infrastructural requirements for the second lane of the Donabate distributor road have formed part of the construction of a single lane which is in breach of its planning conditions as outlined by An Bord Pleanála in 2011 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5200/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 657 and 658 together.

Under section 30 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, I am specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any case with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned.

In the case of the Donabate Distributor road, my involvement relates to the provision of funding for a project under the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF). This follows on from a competitive bid process. This project, being advanced by Fingal County Council, will provide a key piece of new public infrastructure to stimulate the supply of approximately 1,200 housing units on nearby development sites in Donabate. My understanding is that the Grant of Planning Permission for the Donabate Distributor Road includes the construction of a road of approximately 4 km in length, of which 1 km will be single carriageway and the balance dual carriageway. The road is being constructed on a phased basis, in tandem with the development of Donabate, and the first stage involves the construction of a single carriageway for the full 4 km of roadway. The first phase is designed to allow for addition of further lanes of traffic to provide for dual carriageway in line with the future development of the area and the terms of the Grant of Planning Permission. It is the works associated with this first phase which are being funded under LIHAF.

While my Department continues to review the progress of the project on a regular basis, in line with the terms of the grant agreement, the project is being managed and procured by Fingal County Council and the road is presently under construction.

In accordance with the grant agreement signed in 2017, Fingal County Council can drawdown Exchequer funding of 75% of the infrastructure works, with the remaining 25% being funded by the Council. Land acquisition is not being funded as part of this project, but is obviously a prerequisite for the construction phase. Consequently more detailed information on land acquisition issues would be a matter for Fingal County Council.

Water Charges

Ceisteanna (659)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

659. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to introduce an incremental instalment payment plan to assist persons in paying the cost of water connection charges that would be considered excessive or are in excess of a predetermined threshold; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5211/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I refer to the reply to Question No. 245 of 31 May 2018 which sets out the statutory arrangements in place under the Water Services Acts 2007-2017 for the determination of water services connection charges and charging arrangements. Responsibility for the independent economic regulation of the water sector is assigned to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU). As Minister, I do not have a role in determining charging arrangements and must respect fully the statutory powers and functions which the Oireachtas has conferred on the CRU in relation to this matter.

By way of update, I understand that the CRU, informed by a multi-stage public consultation process, published its decision on Irish Water’s enduring Connection Charging Policy on 18 December 2018, and that the approved Connection Charging Policy will come into effect on 1 April 2019, subject to various time-bound transitional arrangements relevant to customers who have made their initial applications on or before 31 March 2019. It may be helpful to note that the CRU has outlined the reasoning behind its position on payment plans in communicating its overall decision, which may be accessed at the following link

https://www.cru.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/CRU18262-CRU-Decision-on-Irish-Waters-Connection-Policy.pdf .

Rural Development Policy

Ceisteanna (660)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

660. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the connection to area condition in the sustainable rural housing guidelines for planning authorities will be removed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5306/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Under the current 2005 Guidelines on Sustainable Rural Housing, planning authorities are required to frame the planning policies in their development plans in a balanced and measured way that ensures the housing needs of rural communities are met, while avoiding excessive urban-generated housing and haphazard development, particularly in those areas near cities and towns that are under pressure from urban generated development.

Following engagement between the European Commission and my Department regarding the European Court of Justice ruling in the "Flemish Decree" case, a working group was established to review and, where necessary, recommend changes to the 2005 Planning Guidelines on Sustainable Rural Housing, issued under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. The working group comprises senior officials from the Planning Division of my Department and senior officials from the Planning Divisions of local authorities, nominated by the local government sector. The objective is to ensure that rural housing policies and objectives contained in local authority development plans comply with the relevant provisions of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The National Planning Framework (the NPF) also provides an important context for the finalisation of the revisions to the 2005 Rural Housing Guidelines. National Policy Objective 15 of the NPF fully supports the concept of the sustainable development of rural areas by encouraging growth and arresting decline in areas that have experienced low population growth or decline in recent decades, while simultaneously indicating the need to manage certain areas around cities and towns that are under strong urban influence and under pressure from uncoordinated and ribbon-type development, in order to avoid over-development of those areas. Accordingly, the NPF objectives are aligned with the approach already expected of planning authorities under the current Guidelines.

Taking account of the engagement with the European Commission on the matter and subject to the completion of the ongoing deliberations by the working group, I will be in a position to finalise and issue to planning authorities revisions to the 2005 Rural Housing Guidelines that take account of the relevant ECJ judgment.

Land Development Agency

Ceisteanna (661)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

661. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the names of the persons appointed to the board of the Land Development Agency; the process by which they were appointed; and the measures put in place to ensure there are no conflicts of interest for the members of the board that have business or financial interests in land, commercial property or residential property development. [5347/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Land Development Agency (LDA) was established on 13 September 2018 by way of Establishment Order under the Local Government Services (Corporate Bodies) Act 1971. Pending the enactment of primary legislation, I have appointed an interim Board with a mix of public and private sector skills and expertise relevant to the objectives of the LDA. The Board members are:

- John Moran – Chairperson – former Secretary General of the Department of Finance

- Michael Stone - North East Inner City Regeneration Implementation Board

- Timothy Bouchier Hayes - Solicitor and construction law expert

- Michelle Norris - UCD Professor of Social Policy

- Conn Murray - Limerick City and County Council Chief Executive

- John Coleman - CEO of the LDA

- John O'Connor - Chief Executive of the Housing Agency

- Clare Costello - Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

- Caroline Timmons - Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government

In their letters of appointments, the Board members have been instructed that if their personal circumstances change in any way that may provide a conflict of interest for their Board role, they must declare the circumstances to the Chairperson of the Board. The Chairperson is required to declare any personal conflicts of interest to me. Also all Board members are required, under the Ethics in Public Offices Acts 1995 and 2001, to provide a statement of interest to the LDA no later than 31 January each year, in respect of the previous year.

On enactment of the primary legislation for the establishment of the LDA, a Board and Chairperson for the LDA will be appointed in line with normal arrangements.

Irish Water Administration

Ceisteanna (662)

James Browne

Ceist:

662. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the position regarding a referendum on the ownership of Irish Water; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5372/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

It will be a matter for the Oireachtas to decide on the holding of a referendum on the ownership of public water services and the wording to be put to the people.

The Government is firmly committed to public water services remaining in public ownership and this is reflected in the Water Services Acts and in the Water Services Policy Statement 2018-2025 approved by Government in May 2018. There is widespread support for this view, as recognised in the Oireachtas approval of the Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services in April 2017 which supports the concept of a referendum on the issue of water services continuing in public ownership. The Committee recommended that the wording of this amendment must be carefully scrutinised to ensure that it does not impact upon the status of Group Water Schemes and individual domestic water supplies.

The matter of the holding of a referendum is addressed in the Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Water in Public Ownership) (No. 2) Bill 2016, a Private Member's Bill initiated by Deputy Joan Collins. The Bill is currently at Dáil committee stage. Detailed examination of the wording of this Bill as it stands, which I have undertaken in consultation with the Attorney General, indicates that it would give rise to unacceptable risks. Reflecting upon the advices that I have received, I have articulated these concerns in correspondence and engagement on the Bill with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government. The Office of the Parliamentary Legal Adviser has separately and independently advised the Committee in relation to the Bill.

In November 2018, I received Government approval for the priority drafting of proposed amendments to the Private Member's Bill to provide for a constitutional amendment which will focus on retaining the entity charged with the provision of public water services in public ownership. My intention is that the draft wording, once finalised, will be brought back to Government for approval and can then be brought forward as a proposed amendment to the existing Bill.

Reflecting this position, and the work that needs to be completed, the referendum was not included amongst those identified by Government to be held in May 2019. The development of the wording is currently being given priority attention by the Office of the Attorney General.

I have written to the Chairperson of the Joint Oireachtas Committee as recently as 21 January 2019 and will continue to keep the Committee updated on progress in this matter.