Compulsory purchase powers by local authorities to acquire units for social and affordable housing purposes
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the steps he has taken to strengthen the use of compulsory purchase powers by local authorities to acquire units for social and affordable housing purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Local authorities have a range of existing legislative powers available to them to deal with derelict and under-utilised properties in their functional areas, for example, through the compulsory purchase powers and under Derelict Sites and Housing legislation. This legislation is kept under constant review.
There is a clear focus on increasing the supply of housing available both in the private and social context and to this end, looking at our existing housing stock and whether we are making efficient and effective use of it, is a key element of Rebuilding Ireland.
The key in this regard, is the implementation of the National Vacant Housing Reuse Strategy. Every local authority has now prepared a Vacant Homes Action Plan and has designated vacant home officers to co-ordinate local actions to address vacancy and to identify priority ‘vacancy hot-spot areas’ and properties that can be quickly brought back into residential use.
Since the launch of Rebuilding Ireland, just under 1,200 vacant homes have been re-introduced to the liveable social housing stock, primarily through a range of vacancy initiatives. Local authorities are also working to bring homes back into use by acquiring dwellings in unfinished estates. Overall, we have also seen an estimated 11,032 homes come out of long term vacancy in the housing sector from Q3 2016 to Q2 2019 inclusive (of which 7,551 were units which were reconnected to the electricity grid after at least 2 years, whilst 3,481 relate to units connected to the electricity grid which were in unfinished housing estates). A proportion of these may have led to compulsory purchase orders in some instances but this wasn’t necessary.
Based on the most recent survey of local authorities, the vacant site levy has moved at least 42 sites into development. The derelict site provisions have also been brought into line with the vacant site levy provisions. In 2018, An Bord Pleanála (the Board) concluded 9 compulsory acquisition cases taken by local authorities under the Derelict Sites Act and which were referred to the Board for confirmation.
These recovered properties aid us in the ongoing effort to meet our commitments under Rebuilding Ireland for ensuring that Ireland’s existing housing stock is used to the greatest extent possible.
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