To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government if the quantum of zoned residential land in each local authority area has been reviewed in comparison to the requirements of the National Planning Framework; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government if instructions have been issued in relation to the de-zoning of the quantum of zoned residential land in each local authority area in comparison to the requirements of the National Planning Framework; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The National Planning Framework (NPF) sets parameters for future planning in Ireland at an overall and strategic level and was not written for direct application to individual counties and towns, without first having regional-level policies developed through the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) process.
The quantum of zoned residential land in each local authority area has therefore not yet been reviewed in the light of the NPF, because RSESs are currently being prepared at Regional Assembly level to provide a co-ordination framework for local authority development plans in the light of the overall national level approach of the NPF. I expect that the Regional Strategies will be published for consultation by the middle of this year and finalised by year end or early in 2019. Following the adoption of each of the three RSESs by the respective Regional Assemblies, each Local Authority will be required to review their statutory land use plans, in accordance with the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended).
No instruction has issued from my Department related to the de-zoning of lands on foot of the publication of the NPF. It is through the review process outlined above that the quantum of zoned land, including residential, can be fully quantified and determined. This approach was outlined to all 31 Local Authorities when they were briefed on the NPF by my Department over the course of March 2018.
The definition of excemptional circumstances when accesing an appeal by a person to the pyrite remediation scheme
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the definition of exceptional circumstances when accessing an appeal by a person to the pyrite remediation scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Pyrite Resolution Act 2013 provides the statutory framework for the establishment of the Pyrite Resolution Board and for the making of a pyrite remediation scheme to be implemented by the Board with support from the Housing Agency. The pyrite remediation scheme is a scheme of “last resort” for affected homeowners who have no other practical option to obtain redress and is limited in its application and scope. The full conditions for eligibility under the scheme are set out in the scheme which is available on the Board’s website, www.pyriteboard.ie.
The scheme is applicable to dwellings which are subject to significant damage attributable to pyritic heave established, in accordance with I.S. 398-1:2013 - Reactive pyrite in sub-floor hardcore material – Part 1: Testing and categorisation protocol. In this regard, it is a condition of eligibility under the scheme that an application to the Board must be accompanied by a Building Condition Assessment with a Damage Condition Rating of 2. Dwellings which do not have a Damage Condition Rating of 2 are not eligible to apply under the scheme. This ensures that, having regard to the available resources, the focus of the scheme is on dwellings which are most severely damaged by pyritic heave. I have no proposals to amend this eligibility criterion.
Where a dwelling, otherwise not eligible for inclusion in the scheme, adjoins a dwelling already included in the scheme, such a dwelling may be considered in accordance with the exceptional circumstance provisions set out in section 17 of the Act. Section 17 provides that exceptional circumstances may apply where -
- failure to include a dwelling in the scheme may result in damage to that dwelling or damage to the dwelling being remediated under the scheme, or
- pyrite remediation work is causing or may cause damage to a dwelling.
The Housing Agency will consider if exceptional circumstances apply when the Remedial Works Plan is being drawn up and the Board will be informed of any recommendation for a decision on the matter. To date, no dwellings have been included in the pyrite remediation scheme under the exceptional circumstances provisions of the Act. My Department is in regular contact with the Board and the Housing Agency in relation to the implementation of the scheme and is satisfied with the arrangements that are currently in place, including in relation to appeals.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government if the criteria for membership of the board of the Residential Tenancies Board has been reviewed since its remit was extended to cover approved housing bodies in 2016; his views on whether the current criteria creates a conflict of interest; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) is governed by the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004 – 2016. The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 amended section 3 of the 2004 Act so that dwellings let by approved housing bodies (AHBs) to social housing tenants now come within the remit of the Act. The position of these tenants is significantly improved by the change, which commenced on 7 April 2016.
The Act requires that Board members of the RTB shall be persons who, in the Minister’s opinion, have experience in a field of expertise relevant to the Board’s functions. In accordance with the Government Decision regarding appointments to vacancies on State Boards, with effect from 1 November 2014, vacancies on the Board must be advertised openly on the State Boards portal, www.stateboards.ie, operated by the Public Appointments Service (PAS).
The Government believes that putting in place a system for appointments to State Boards that is open, accessible, rigorous and transparent will yield additional applications from accomplished, experienced and qualified individuals who wish to make a commitment to public service that might not have previously been identified as available for appointment to State Boards. One of the core elements of the model agreed by Government is the operation by PAS of an independent, expert, rigorous and transparent system of assessment.
On appointment, RTB Board members are required to sign and adhere to the code of practice for Board members, as detailed on the RTB website at the following link:
As outlined in the Code, Board members must also comply with the requirements of section 170 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2004 in relation to disclosure of interests and must disclose outside business or employment interests in conflict or in potential conflict with the business of the RTB.
I am satisfied the RTB is committed to maintaining the highest standards of corporate governance, in compliance with the Codes of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies.
The RTB continually reviews its Board's structure and criteria on an annual basis, insofar as that it fully complies with the best practices of good corporate governance, introduced via the comprehensive 2016 Code of Practice for Governance of State Bodies (Chapters 3 (Role of Board Members) & 4 (Board Effectiveness) refer).
To ask the Minister for Finance the targeted amount of homes due to be built under Home Building Finance Ireland financing; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Minister for Finance the number of applications received for the Home Building Finance Ireland scheme; the number of successful applicants; the amount issued to date; the interest rate applied; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Minister for Finance the number of NAMA staff transferred to Home Building Finance Ireland to date; the estimated operating costs of Home Building Finance Ireland in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
In my Budget speech on 10 October 2017, I announced a proposal to establish a new dedicated fund, Home Building Finance Ireland (‘HBFI’) to provide funding on market terms to viable residential development projects whose owners are experiencing difficulty in obtaining debt funding.
In answering the Deputy’s questions it is first necessary to recognise that Home Building Finance Ireland (HBFI) is in the process of being established. The draft scheme of the HBFI Bill was approved by Cabinet at the end of January and drafting is currently being undertaken by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel in conjunction with my officials. It is expected that the Bill will be published shortly and I am hopeful that the Oireachtas will be in a position to pass the HBFI Bill in the first half of 2018, with a view to HBFI commencing operations later in 2018. The passage of legislation establishing HBFI is a priority for the Government.
While HBFI will be an independent legal entity established under the Companies Act 2014, in order to ensure that the fund is established in the most efficient manner possible it is proposed that HBFI will harness the considerable expertise and skills amassed through NAMA’s existing residential funding programme. It is envisaged that this will be achieved by enabling the NTMA to allocate current NAMA staff with the relevant skills and experience to HBFI where appropriate and subject to the need to ensure that achievement of NAMA’s own statutory objectives is not adversely affected. The allocation of NAMA staff will be commensurate to the level of demand for lending from developers and staff will only be assigned where the skills and experience match those that are sought by the Board of HBFI. However as HBFI’s establishing legislation has not yet been enacted it follows that no NAMA staff have been transferred to HBFI to date.
Officials in my Department have been engaging with stakeholders including the Construction Industry Federation and other market participants who welcome the proposed scheme. Formal applications for funding will commence once the entity is up and running later this year. While it will ultimately be up to the Board of HBFI, when it is constituted, to determine the terms and conditions of the fund's lending, the success of an application will depend on, inter alia, the risk profile of each project, the quality of collateral and the creditworthiness of the borrower. In order to comply with EU State aid rules, lending will be provided at market equivalent rates and will not constitute subsidised funding for residential developers.
Once HBFI is established it is estimated that the fund’s proposed allocation of €750m could have capacity to fund about 6,000 homes in the coming years. This delivery estimate is based on an assumed delivery cost of €250,000 per unit and an assumption that HBFI would recycle the allocated funding once over an estimated three year time horizon. The current estimated shortfall in residential supply is 15,000 – 20,000 units per annum and, accordingly, HBFI, with an annual average delivery of 2,000 homes, could help reduce this shortfall by about 10%.
HBFI’s operating costs will include salary costs, the cost of providing legal, financial reporting and other services in addition to loan servicing costs, audit fees, Board fees, office accommodation and systems costs. While it is too early to estimate operating costs in advance of a business plan which has been endorsed by the future Board of HBFI, it is envisaged that these costs will be commensurate with those of NAMA’s residential funding programme and costs typically incurred by other market participants.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the number of affordable purchase scheme units provided to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The delivery of more affordable homes, to buy or rent, is a major priority for Government, focusing in particular on the cities of Dublin, Galway and Cork, where people are facing the greatest affordability challenge. Following the economic downturn, with housing construction output dropping by 90%, the Government has taken remedial action to get Ireland building new homes again, culminating in the comprehensive Rebuilding Ireland – Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness in July 2016.
Rebuilding Ireland is having a significant impact, with nearly 26,000 households having their social housing needs met in 2017, significantly ahead of target. In order to get overall house-building at scale activated again, the Government has:
-approved investment of €200 million in key enabling infrastructure to open up strategic public and private sites for early development;
-updated, streamlined and de-risked the planning and regulatory regime to progress major houses and apartment developments; and
-approved arrangements for development finance to be made available to house builders.
In terms of housing output all housing activity indicators continue to show encouraging trends:
-Home builders have notified 18,500 new residential construction commencements over the twelve months to end-February 2018, an increase of 41% year on year;
-Planning permission was granted for almost 20,800 new homes in 2017, an annual increase of 27%;
-The CSO's preliminary Quarterly National Accounts for 2017 showed a 33% growth in residential construction investment;
-Large-scale residential developments are securing planning permission through the new Strategic Housing Development (SHD) process in An Bord Pleanála.
The Government is committed to ensuring that housing is affordable for households on low to moderate incomes. Recognising that people want a choice of affordable purchase and rental, depending on their stage of life and circumstances, we are progressing both.
Importantly, the new measures announced in January of this year are specifically targeted at delivering more affordable homes and have the potential to deliver more than 3,000 new affordable homes to buy or rent initially, with a target delivery of at least 10,000 new affordable homes in the medium to longer term. The emphasis will be on delivering affordable homes from the public land bank in urban areas where affordability issues are greatest. Recognising that there are enabling infrastructure requirements on some sites, I am also providing Exchequer funding of €25 million, over 2018 and 2019, as a key contribution towards the delivery of more affordable housing from local authority land.
In terms of affordable purchase, the new Scheme will be based on the relevant provisions of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, which will be commenced shortly, and enabling regulations which are in preparation. At that point, the elected members of each local authority will be responsible for determining the order of priority to be accorded to eligible households, in line with the national scheme's framework. In the meantime, Dublin City Council has two major ready-to-go sites being advanced through procurement. The elected members of the City Council have determined that 20% of the homes on these sites - at Infirmary Road and Oscar Traynor Road - will be made available to eligible households for affordable purchase.
All Parliamentary Questions I make about Housing, Planning and Local Government and their answers can be viewed in this section