Minister O’Brien launches two new publications to improve quality & quicken delivery of social homes
ig and Review of Pre-Construction Processes documents are key actions under Housing for All plan;
Compact growth is core element of Design Manual and will help combat climate change.
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, has today launched two publications that will help improve the quality, cost-effectiveness and pace of delivery of social homes and mixed-tenure developments.
Minister O’Brien presented a Design Manual for Quality Housing, and a Review of Pre-Construction Processes for Social Housing Construction and Mixed Tenure Projects to Fingal County Council’s Chief Executive Ann-Marie Farrelly and Fingal’s County Architect Fionnuala May at the council’s office in Swords, North County Dublin.
Design Manual for Quality Housing
The Design Manual is being sent to all Local Authorities and Tier-3 Approved Housing Bodies and will also be available electronically on the Department’s website. The manual, a commitment in the Government’s Housing for All plan, will help to:
The Review of Pre-Construction Processes for Social Housing Construction and Mixed Tenure Projects was also a key commitment in Housing for All. In the Plan the Government has committed to delivering over 90,000 new build social homes by the end of 2030. The review of Pre-Construction Processes for Social Housing will help to deliver on this seismic shift towards new build social homes. The review sets out a number of practical actions which will streamline the approvals and other pre-contract processes, while ensuring that cost effectiveness is being achieved for the taxpayer. Some of the actions included in the review are:
Commenting on the new publications Minister O’Brien said: “I am pleased to launch these important publications, both of which will greatly assist local authorities, Approved Housing Bodies, their respective design teams and planners to deliver better designed, more cost-effective and efficiently built social and mixed-tenure developments.
“The key to our current housing challenges is supply and the speed at which we can scale up supply. Both publications are key elements of Housing for All’s aim of improving the quality and delivery times of social housing developments. They will help make public housing more efficient and cost-effectively designed, and will help shorten the social housing and mixed tenure approvals processes. This is critical given the scale of public housing ambition.
“The Design Manual also sits firmly within the Programme for Government commitment to act against climate change. We must continue to improve not only the quantity of housing output across all the various forms of tenure but also to maintain and improve on the quality of residential development, in an economic and environmentally sustainable manner. I want to thank the local authorities, Approved Housing Bodies, Land Development Agency and all who inputted into the Design Manual for Quality Housing and the working group on pre-construction processes for their comprehensive report.”
On behalf of the local government sector, Frank Curran, Chairman of the County and City Management Association Housing, Building and Land Use, Committee said: “Local Authorities have a major role to play in delivering the social housing targets set out in the Housing for All plan and I welcome the publication of the Design Manual for Quality Housing which will be of great assistance to housing departments across the 31 local authorities as they seek to increase their own-build output of sustainable social housing to meet the needs of our communities.”
The manual was also welcomed by Dr Donal McManus, CEO of the Irish Council for Social Housing: “The publication of the Design Manual provides a welcome guide for Approved Housing Bodies in delivering quality social housing. The application of quality design and sustainability principles to the delivery of new homes will provide a useful resource to AHBs in achieving good quality housing using best practice guidelines. The availability of design layouts across different housing typologies will assist AHBs in delivering an expanded social housing programme.”
The Design Manual for Quality Housing contains sample site layouts and standard internal layouts for houses, duplexes and apartments. Where proposals are received which adopt standard internal layouts approvals will be quicker as the Department will not re- evaluate such standard internal layouts, as is necessary with unique, bespoke designs.
The Design Manual for Quality Housing can be found at this link.
The Review of Pre-Construction Processes for Social Housing Construction and Mixed Tenure Projects Working Group Report can be found at this link.
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage and Local Fingal TD, Darragh O’Brien has welcomed the announcement of a series of actions to support Irish horticultural growers who are dependent on peat.
The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage worked with the Departments of Environment, Climate and Communications and Agriculture, Food and the Marine on proposals which will ultimately support the €469 million horticulture industry, the people employed and the many families that depend on this important sector.
The proposals which will be progressed include the commissioning of an independent expert to assess levels and suitability of current stocks of peat across all suppliers, including Bord na Móna, for the Irish horticultural sector. The commissioning of experts on planning to provide free advice to those who wish to extract peat in a manner which is compliant with the relevant regulations on sub-30 hectare bogs; and new research to deliver alternatives to peat for the horticulture sector.
Commenting Minister O’Brien said, “I am very aware through the significant amount of work which has been undertaken by our respective Department’s that there is no easy solution to this matter. We have to address the short-term issue of supply, the medium term one of future access to peat and also the longer-term issue of replacement with alternatives.
“The professional horticultural industry makes a huge contribution to the Irish economy, in terms of employment, of food security and in sustaining a whole range of other downstream businesses. We need to stand with our Irish growers, and give them help and support to access the modest supplies of peat that they need while realistic alternatives to peat as a growing medium are still in development. This must be done in a way that complies with our planning and licensing laws, and I am glad to see that expert help will be provided as part of this programme of Actions, to help growers engage with and navigate the regulatory system.
“Our long-term goal is to develop suitable peat-free alternatives for growers that are economically and environmentally sustainable. These alternatives will take time to come to fruition and growers will continue to need access to a viable growing medium in the interim to protect these valuable jobs and sector,” he concluded.
Strategy clearly sets out Government’s vision for the delivery of housing and related support services for disabled people over the next five years
New strategy places a greater emphasis on facilitating independent living and being included in the community
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD; the Minister of State for Planning and Local Government, Peter Burke TD; and Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Anne Rabbitte TD, today (Friday 14 January 2022) launched the National Housing Strategy for Disabled People 2022 - 2027. The Strategy sets out the Government’s vision for delivering housing and related supports for disabled people and has been developed by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the Department of Health and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. It replaces the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability 2011 – 2016 (extended to 2021).
The new strategy places a greater emphasis on independent living and community inclusion than the previous strategy. Implementation of the plan will be based on the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Government has revised the structures that oversee and implement the strategy to make the delivery of housing and related supports for disabled people more effective and appropriate to their needs.
Developed under the guiding principles of Housing for All, the Government’s national plan for housing to 2030, the strategy seeks to facilitate disabled people to live independently with the appropriate choices and control over where, how and with whom they live. The Strategy places an emphasis on disabled people having choice and control over their living arrangements. It demonstrates the Government’s commitment to providing equal access to housing for all.
Providing more equal access to housing for disabled people with integrated support services promotes their inclusion in the community, fulfilling a key Housing for All commitment. A key element is a focus on co-ordinating provision of housing for disabled people with the social supports provided through HSE-funded disability services.
The National Housing Strategy for Disabled People 2022 – 2027 is the result of a comprehensive 8-month, two phase consultation process and is laid out across six themes, each detailing desired outcomes to deliver the overall vision set out in the plan:
1 – Accessible Housing and Communities
2 – Interagency Collaboration and the Provision of Supports
3 – Affordability of Housing
4 – Communication and Access to Information
5 – Knowledge, Capacity, and Expertise
6 – Strategy Alignment
Work has now begun on the very important Implementation Plan for the Strategy. The Housing Agency will oversee this work. The Implementation Plan will be published by the end of quarter 2, 2022 detailing how outcomes will be achieved.
Commenting, Minister O’Brien said:
“This new National Housing Strategy for Disabled People 2022-2027 sets out our joint vision for the delivery of housing and support services for the next five years. The overall aim of the overarching Housing for All plan is that everyone in the State should have access to a home to purchase or rent at an affordable price, built to a high standard and in the right place, offering a high quality of life. This strategy underlines the Government’s vision.
“Importantly, Housing and Disability Steering Groups’ will continue to have a key role as the forum for delivery of the strategy’s outcomes at local level. These Steering Groups have been established in each local authority area and this Strategy maps out the pathway for them to refresh and renew their role and focus with disabled people at the centre. I have no doubt this will lead to a more integrated and strategic response to the needs of people with a disability at local level.”
“I look forward to working collaboratively with my Government colleagues and delivery partners across the sector in making the vision of this Strategy a reality.”
Also commenting on the Strategy, Minister Burke stated:
“The preparation of this new National Housing Strategy for Disabled People 2022-2027 has been led by the lived experience of people with a disability and those supporting them. Drawing on the knowledge and insight of individuals who experience disability, their representative groups and those who work to provide services, the strategy contains a vision to bring about practical and lasting change. I hope that this change will make a compelling difference to housing and accommodation provision for people with a disability across our country.
“I want to acknowledge the key role that local authorities have played. As housing authorities, their role is pivotal in ensuring that the Strategy is implemented at local level where it matters most for the citizen.
“Our goal is for Ireland to be a better place for disabled people to live in, to access the right kind of housing or accommodation, a place where those with a disability have choices and play a central role in relation to matters and decisions that affect their lives. It should be a country where every disabled person is supported to live independently, participate fully in our society, and enjoy a quality of life on a par with the rest of the population. This Strategy sets our course for housing to play its part in achieving that.”
Welcoming the Strategy, Minister Rabbitte said:
“I warmly welcome the publication of the new National Housing Strategy for Disabled People 2022-2027. This Government’s philosophy is ‘Housing for All’, which means that our housing provision must be inclusive of people with disabilities. I am particularly pleased to see the important emphasis on Universal Design in this Strategy.
“I am delighted that this Strategy has very much been informed by the input of disabled people who took part in the public consultation process, and I want to thank the Housing Agency for facilitating their involvement.
“A central tenet of this Housing Strategy for People with Disabilities is to coordinate and align housing provision with the delivery of health and social care supports. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Government, and with the HSE to drive forward the practical implementation of this approach.
“The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a key framework for how we support disabled people in Ireland and is central to how government has approached this Strategy. I believe this Strategy helps progress our commitment under the UNCRPD to facilitate disabled people to live independently and as part of the community.”
The National Housing Strategy for Disabled People 2022 – 2027 can be viewed on https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/60d76-national-housing-strategy-for-disabled-people-2022-2027/ from 9 am today (Friday January 14th)
The Commission will examine long-term housing policy, beyond 2030, and report to Government on how to build on policy changes committed to under Housing for All. It is envisaged that the State will take a trans-governmental and enduring approach towards housing policy, and will play a role in the State achieving good quality, affordable homes for all.
The Commission will be tasked with examining and reporting on:
Attending the first meeting today, Minister O’Brien said: “The Government recognises the need for a long-term approach to housing policy, an enduring approach that transcends changes of government. We need to build consensus on how we address our housing issues. That is why, as promised under Housing for All and the Programme for Government, we’ve established a Housing Commission, which will now begin to examine long-term housing policy issues.
“The Commission will look at important issues like housing tenure, cost, quality and supply, the cost of private rental accommodation and social housing. I look forward to receiving its work and ensuring it informs long-term housing policy. I want to thank the members for agreeing to be members and want to wish the commission well with its work.”
John O’Connor, Chair of the Commission, said: “There is great commitment and focus among members and the Commission is ready to embark on its important programme of work.
As Chair, I intend to work with all other Commission members to ensure we deliver against its Terms of Reference and provide solutions to how we create a sustainable housing system, delivering the quality homes that are needed, for the long-term.”
More information on the commission can be found at gov.ie/housingcommission.
Legislation requiring providers of building services to register with Construction Industry Register Ireland published
- Number of building and contracting entities registered with Construction Industry Register Ireland expected to increase from approximately 800 to at least 5,000 initially- Legislation delivers on Housing for All commitment to embed compliance in the construction sectorWednesday 12 January, 2022
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, TD, has welcomed the publication of the Regulation of Providers of Building Works Bill 2021. The legislation will put the Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) on a statutory footing. The Bill aims to benefit consumers and the general public by giving those who engage a registered builder the assurance that they are dealing with a competent and compliant operator.
The legislation is committed to in Housing for All, the Government’s national plan for housing to 2030. Currently, entities providing building services can voluntarily register with CIRI, which has operated since 2014. Once the legislation is enacted, all entities providing building services will be required to register with CIRI.
CIRI was established by the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), which is expected to operate the statutory register. This is a similar model to that of registration for Registered Architects and Surveyors. Approximately 800 building and contracting entities are currently included on the register. When the register operates on a statutory footing, it’s expected that initially at least 5,000 entities will be required to register.
The requirement to register will apply to builders of both residential and non-residential buildings that are subject to the Building Regulations. Employees of such building firms will not be required to apply but sole traders will. Eligibility for registration can be achieved through qualifications, experience or a combination of both. The criteria required for registration will be clear and transparent and will be set out in regulations.
Once enacted, the statutory register is expected to help develop and promote a culture of competence, good practice and compliance with building regulations. The new measures will also address shadow economic activity in the construction sector and ensure fairer competition for compliant operators.
Commenting on the legislation, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, said: “This legislation, promised under Housing for All, will help improve our housing system over the longer term. Everyone should be confident in the knowledge that their homes are built to the highest standards and that any professional services they use are also of a certain standard. Likewise, companies and people buying or renting commercial buildings should be able to expect that they are built by service providers of a certain standard. This legislation will ensure that the construction sector operates to the highest standard and that people have confidence in its workforce and practices.
“This Government is taking firm action on the issue of housing defects and the legacies of poor construction design, workmanship and materials. It is something which has impacted so significantly on the lives of so many of our people. By driving regulation in the construction sector, the State will ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated and we have a more sustainable housing system and construction sector in the future,” the Minister concluded.
Changes will assist single applicants in Fingal
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien, TD has today [January 4th 2022] announced a newly expanded Local Authority Home Loan scheme.
The changes announced will make it easier for single applicants in Fingal to avail of a State backed mortgage for a new, second-hand or self-build home. A ‘Fresh Start’ principle also applies which means that people who are divorced or separated and have no interest in the family home, or who have undergone insolvency proceedings, will be eligible to apply also.
Commenting Minister O’Brien said, “Supporting home ownership is a key objective for this Government. In Housing for All, our new Plan for housing in Ireland we committed to introducing a reformed Local Authority Home Loan scheme to further support access to homeownership for creditworthy homebuyers who otherwise find it difficult to access sufficient finance.
“Through these changes I am now raising the income ceiling for a single applicant by €15,000 to €65,000 in counties Dublin, Cork, Galway, Kildare, Louth, Meath and Wicklow.
“The 175 sq. metres limit on the property has also been removed.
“This comes on top of enhancements already made to the scheme. In September I lowered the interest rate for local authority lending by 0.25% and this lower interest rate will continue to apply to loans issued under the Local Authority Home Loan.
“Ultimately, this Government, through Housing for All, is working to put the dream of homeownership back in reach for people in North County Dublin where we know there are massive affordability constraints. Today’s announcement is another step in that direction,” he concluded.