The statutory position regarding Housing Services Plans is set out in sections 14 -18 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. These provisions have not yet been commenced.
Section 14 requires that each housing authority make a Housing Services Plan setting out the objectives, which the housing authority considers to be reasonable and necessary for the provision of housing services having regard to the requirements of the housing strategy or strategies relating to housing supports for its administrative area.
Housing Services are defined as, among other things:
- social housing support;
- affordable housing;
- the granting of shared ownership leases under section 3 of the Act of 1992;
- the sale, or consent to the sale, of a dwelling under section 90(1)(b) of the Principal Act to a person other than another housing authority;
- loans made under section 11 of the Act of 1992 or section 25(1) of the Housing (Traveller accommodation) Act 1998;
- grants for works of improvement or adaptation to houses under section 5 of the Act of 1992;
- grants and other assistance for the provision of new houses or improvement works to houses under section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1979;
- services provided to homeless persons under section 10 of the Act of 1988;
- the provision of sites under section 57 of the Principal Act; and
- the management, maintenance and refurbishment of any dwelling, building or land of which the housing authority is the owner or which is under its management and control.
The provisions allow for the making of a Housing Services Plan in draft form first, its circulation to the Minister and other bodies (including Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) and the HSE) for comments, the preparation of a report for the elected members by the Chief Executive and the adoption of the Plan by the members, with or without modification.
The main priority in recent years has been to deliver on the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, and it has not been necessary to commence the provisions of the 2009 Act referred to in order to achieve the delivery of the associated significantly increased and enhanced housing services by local authorities and AHBs. This is demonstrated by the level of social housing delivery achieved in 2018, exceeding the national target for the year by 6%.
Under section 94 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, each planning authority is required to include a housing strategy in its Development Plan, for the purpose of ensuring that the proper planning and sustainable development of the area provides for the housing of the existing and future population of the area in the manner set out in the strategy. All authorities have complied with this requirement.
A housing strategy takes into account a number of matters including:
- the existing need and the likely future need for social and affordable housing,
- the need to ensure that housing is available for persons who have different levels of income,
- the need to ensure that a mixture of house types and sizes is developed to reasonably match the requirements of the different categories of households, including the special requirements of elderly persons and persons with disabilities, and
- the need to counteract undue segregation in housing between persons of different social backgrounds.
It is also required to include an estimate of the amount of social and affordable housing required in the area of the development plan during the period of the plan.