New rural housing guidelines
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government when new rural housing guidelines will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
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.
Taking account of the engagement with the European Commission regarding revisions to the 2005 Rural Housing Guidelines 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 Guidelines that take account of the relevant European Court of Justice judgment.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government when the review of the tenant purchase scheme will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Housing (Sale of Local Authority Houses) Regulations 2015 set a commencement date of 1 January 2016 for the introduction of the Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme 2016.
In relation to Galway City, the number of homes sold under the current scheme in 2017 was 8 and a further 9 homes were sold in 2018. In the case of Galway County, the number of homes sold under the scheme in 2017 was 11, while 9 homes were sold under the scheme in 2018. No homes were sold in Galway City or County under the scheme in 2016.
In relation to the loans accessed and their value, it should be noted that the financing of a house sold under the Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme is a separate matter to a tenant being deemed eligible under the scheme. If the tenant is deemed eligible, he or she may fund the purchase of a house from one, or a combination, of his or her own resources or a mortgage provided by a financial institution or a local authority house purchase loan. My Department does not hold information on local authority loans accessed specifically for tenant purchase.
In line with the commitment given in the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, a review of the operation of the first 12 months of the Tenant Purchase (Incremental) Scheme has been completed and a full report has been prepared setting out findings and recommendations.
It is intended that a comprehensive package of social housing reform measures will be brought to Government in the near future and the relevant recommendations made in the review of the Tenant Purchase Scheme will be progressed as part of that process. The publication of the review will also be addressed in that context.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the status of the review of the income eligibility limits for social housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Applications for social housing support are assessed by the relevant local authority, in accordance with the eligibility and need criteria set down in section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the associated Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, as amended.
The 2011 Regulations prescribe maximum net income limits for each local authority, in different bands according to the area concerned, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy.
Under the Household Means Policy, which applies in all local authorities, net income for social housing assessment is defined as gross household income less income tax, PRSI and the universal social charge. The Policy provides for a range of income disregards, and local authorities also have discretion to decide to disregard income that is temporary, short-term or once off in nature.
The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band were based on an assessment of the income needed to provide for a household's basic needs, plus a comparative analysis of the local rental cost of housing accommodation across the country. It is important to note that the limits introduced at that time also reflected a blanket increase of €5,000 introduced prior to the new system coming into operation, in order to broaden the base from which social housing tenants are drawn, both promoting sustainable communities and also providing a degree of future-proofing.
Given the cost to the State of providing social housing, it is considered prudent and fair to direct resources to those most in need of social housing support. The current income eligibility requirements generally achieve this, providing for a fair and equitable system of identifying those households facing the greatest challenge in meeting their accommodation needs from their own resources.
However, as part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of income eligibility for social housing supports in each local authority area is under way. The review will also have regard to current initiatives being brought forward in terms of affordability and cost rental and will be completed when the impacts of these parallel initiatives have been considered.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the status of the affordable homes scheme; the amount spent to date; the amount anticipated to be drawn down by the end of 2019; the number of sites identified; the timeframe for delivery; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the status of the cost-rental scheme pilot project; the timeframe for its completion; the income criteria; the selection process to be used; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 was commenced in June 2018 to provide a new statutory basis for affordable dwelling purchase arrangements. Initial regulations in relation to schemes of priorities were made subsequently and further regulations will be put in place over the coming months regarding eligibility and other matters.
In order to support the delivery of discounted homes to buy or rent, this Government has committed €310 million under the Serviced Sites Fund, from 2019 to 2021, to provide infrastructure to support the delivery of some 6,200 homes. To date, funding of €127 million, in support of 35 projects in 13 local authority areas, has been allocated for infrastructure works on sites that will support the delivery of almost 3,200 homes.
The overall cost and the timing of delivery for these projects is contingent upon the completion of design, planning and procurement in the first instance, and local authorities are working to achieve delivery as quickly as possible. The price of homes that will be offered for purchase under the scheme will vary on a development by development basis, but Dublin City Council, for example, has indicated that it expects to have 2 bedroom homes available in Ballymun in the €148,000 - €168,000 price range.
The first cost rental project, at Enniskerry Road in Stepaside, has gone on site and will deliver over 150 homes, 50 of which will be cost rental. My Department has been in contact with the local authority concerned in relation to the commencement of drawdown of funding. The remaining projects are currently at the stages of design and planning and, accordingly, local authorities are not yet drawing down allocated funds. I anticipate that the bulk of expenditure will arise as projects reach the construction phase.
The Enniskerry Road project, which I formally launched last week, is one of two ‘pathfinder’ pilot projects for cost rental. The homes involved are due to be completed in 2021 and tenants will pay €1,200 per month to live in the two-bedroom apartments. This rent is based on the cost of delivering and maintaining the homes, and is a significant reduction when compared to market rents in the area.
In relation to the St. Michael's Estate site at Emmet Road, Dublin City Council is continuing to make progress on the preliminary work on this project. It is estimated that this site can accommodate approximately 470 homes in a high quality mixed tenure development, including approximately 330 cost rental homes, and the Development Framework Plan for the site has recently been completed.
Dublin City Council is engaging with my Department according to the best-practice guidelines set out in the Capital Works Management Framework, and is currently procuring an architect-led Integrated Design Team, who will be responsible for designing the scheme and taking it as far as the planning stage. I am determined that work will continue to progress apace on this project over the coming months and that lessons learned from the modelling at this location are applied to the ongoing development work for a national Cost Rental model.
In terms of that work to progress the cost rental agenda more generally, I have convened a working group led by my Department, also involving the Land Development Agency, the Housing Agency and other bodies, to develop the cost rental policy framework, to provide for a sustainable financing structure and to allow us commence delivery of homes at scale. In order to assist with this work, in May 2019 my Department signed an agreement with the European Investment Bank to officially engage them to undertake a research project into Cost Rental on our behalf.
Detailed operational and eligibility criteria for Cost Rental will be informed by this evidence building and policy work. This work will be concluded well in advance of the completion of construction work on the first homes at Enniskerry Road.
These new schemes are set in the context of significant moderation in the growth in house prices and complement other key Government affordability initiatives.
Included among these are the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, under which over 1,000 loans had been drawn down by end June this year, and the Help to Buy Scheme, under which some 14,000 applications have been approved. In addition, the Land Development Agency's initial portfolio of sites will have the potential to deliver 3,000 affordable homes and the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund ( LIHAF) will support more than 2,300 affordable homes on mainly publicly owned lands, while 5,600 further homes will benefit from a LIHAF- related cost reduction, some of which have already come on stream.
In overall terms, programmes are in place under which some 18,000 affordable homes or homes with a LIHAF-related reduction will be delivered, with 15,000 households already supported under the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan or the Help to Buy Scheme.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the amount and location of lands transferred to the Land Development Agency to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the amount and location of lands that have been transferred to the Land Development Agency to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
On establishment, the Land Development Agency (LDA) had access to an initial tranche of 8 sites that have near term delivery potential for 3,000 new homes. The sites concerned are as follows:
1. Central Mental Hospital Site, Dundrum
2. Hampton, Balbriggan
3. Hacketstown, Skerries
4. Devoy Barracks, Naas
5. Former Meath Hospital, Dublin City Centre
6. St. Kevin's Hospital, Cork
7. Columb Barracks, Mullingar
8. Dyke Road, Galway
The ownership of 7 of the sites will not formally transfer to the LDA until the Land Development Agency Bill is enacted, while the site in Galway is owned by Galway City Council and will be developed on a partnership basis. It is intended that the Bill will be published and brought before the Oireachtas later this year; indeed, the Joint Committee of which the Deputy is a member will be conducting pre-legislative scrutiny on the Bill shortly. The LDA is also working with Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council on a delivery plan for a site at Shanganagh.
Notwithstanding that the legislation has not yet been finalised, the LDA is already working on these initial sites made available to them. While passing the LDA legislation is a priority, it is not preventing the LDA from progressing these sites. In addition, because the sites are public lands, rather than lands in private ownership, the issue of ownership and transfer is not an obstacle to early progress. The LDA is entering into pre-sale agreements with the land owners, as appropriate, to ensure that it has full access to the sites to carry out necessary pre-construction activities. Significant preparatory work is underway, with feasibility and planning work already initiated and the first planning applications due to be submitted later this year. Construction activity is envisaged to commence on some sites by mid-2020, subject to the grant of planning permissions, with the first homes due to be completed by the end of 2020.
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