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.
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