-€23,436 for Naul village health check-
-€22,500 for Oldtown village health check-
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, has welcomed the €45,936 in funding which has been allocated to Fingal County Council under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.
The allocation will provide funding for two ‘village health checks’ one in Naul and the other in Oldtown in North County Dublin. A village health check essentially surveys the development needs and potential for a village. It looks at areas such as amenities, public realm, infrastructure and services and identifies specific projects for future funding.
Commenting Minister O’Brien said, “I welcome this funding today which will ultimately pave the way for future applications to funding streams which help to breathe new life into towns and villages across the country.
“Oldtown and Naul are two villages I regularly visit along with Councillors Brian Dennehy and Adrian Henchy and the communities in both villages are extremely active and work for the betterment of their respective areas.
“This year’s Town and Village Renewal Scheme, places a strong emphasis on projects which tackle vacancy and dereliction and breathe new life back into their areas. There is also a strong focus on remote working projects aimed at attracting remote workers to relocate.
“I will be a strong advocate for further applications for our towns and villages in North County Dublin,” he concluded.
The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has today published Commencement Notices data for January 2022. Commencement Notices for 1,861 new residential homes were received by Building Control Authorities in January 2022. Commencement Notices data indicates the number of homes on which construction commenced in any given month.
In the past twelve months (February 2021 to January 2022), Commencement Notices for 31,201 new homes were received. This is the highest rolling 12-month total since comparable data was first published.
With the exception of 2020, when significant restrictions on home-building existed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of residential homes for which Commencement Notices were received has increased every year since 2015 (the earliest year for which comparable data is available).
The total number of homes for which Commencement Notices were received in January 2022 (1,861 units) is 7.2% higher than December 2021 (1,736 units). The figures is 34.5% higher than January 2021 (although it should be noted that there were restrictions on construction activity in place in January 2021 for public health reasons).
The 12-month rolling periods relate to February to January for the years in question.
Data on construction activity can be found here.
A Commencement Notice is a notification to a Building Control Authority that a person intends to carry out either works or a Material Change of Use to which the Building Regulations apply. The notice must be given to the authority not more than 28 days and not less than 14 days before the commencement of works or the change of use. Once validated by the building control authority, works must commence on site within the 28 day period.
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, TD, has signed Planning Regulations that will exempt the conversion of former pubs into residential units from requiring planning permission. The new exemption is contained in an extension of 2018 Planning Regulations that allow a change of use of certain vacant commercial premises - including vacant areas above ground-floor premises - to residential use such as ‘above shop’ living. The exemptions aim to increase the re-use of vacant commercial buildings in Fingal and elsewhere to increase much-needed housing supply and renew urban areas. Since 2018, 13 residential units have been provided through 8 notifications of exempted developments and Minister O’Brien has said he wants to see this figure increase substantially.
For the conversion of former pubs into a home/homes in Fingal the pub’s license must have lapsed and a limit of nine residential units can be produced under an exempted development.
Commenting after signing the regulations, Minister O’Brien said: “Turning vacant properties into occupied homes is a major element of Housing for All. Unfortunately towns and villages in Fingal have seen pubs close their doors for the last time in recent years. This new planning regulation will ease the planning burden for those who want to convert small and medium-sized pubs that are no longer viable and have ceased to operate, into residential housing for Fingal. The regulations will also continue to make it easier to get other forms of vacant commercial premises in Fingal, including vacant spaces over ground floor premises, back into use for residential purposes such as ‘over the shop’ living.”
Minister O’Brien added: “Since 2018, 39 homes have been provided from exempting the conversion of certain vacant commercial premises. I believe there is great potential for even more vacant properties to be converted into residential units through these regulations. Increased awareness of these exemptions, including through the work of Fingal County Council, will help get more vacant properties back into use. This measure supports the Government’s other measures to tackle vacancy, including increased funding for full-time Vacant Homes Officers in Fingal County Council and other local authorities, and the launch of a Town Centre First policy, which will revitalise town centres and their buildings.”
In January, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage held a workshop with the all Local Authorities including Fingal County Council to discuss the challenge of vacancy and initiatives to ensure vacant homes are re-used for housing, where appropriate. The Department also issued a communication outlining that it will increase its annual contribution to the funding of local authorities’ Vacant Homes Offices from €50,000 to €60,000 per annum, subject to the local authority’s VHO being full-time (and preferably a permanent role).
The Department is supporting Local Authorities to ensure the role of a VHO is focused on relevant actions in Housing for All and compliment the role of potential Town Regeneration Officers (provided for under Town Centre First). The VHO will have a particular role in driving two new Housing for All schemes:
• the Croí Connaithe (Towns) Initiative, which will attract people to build their own homes, and support the refurbishment of vacant properties
• a Compulsory Purchase Order programme, to be implemented by local authorities, to purchase vacant properties for resale on the open market to ensure their use for residential purposes
In February, the Government published its Town Centre First policy. It contains 33 actions that give towns the tools and resources they need to become more viable and attractive places in which to live, work, visit and run a business. The policy contains actions and funding streams to address vacancy and dereliction.
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage and Local Fingal TD, Darragh O’Brien has hosted a meeting of the Irish Families through Surrogacy organisation and members of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party.
Irish Families through Surrogacy are a non-profit association of parents who have had children through surrogacy. They are campaigning for children born through surrogacy to have a legally recognised relationship with both parents.
Last year Portmarnock couple Sinead and Mark Gallagher-Hedderman detailed their very difficult journey when it came to international surrogacy and the pandemic. They bravely told their story and outlined the challenges they faced and still continue to face.
Minister O’Brien hosted the online meeting last week where Irish Families through Surrogacy representatives outlined the challenges they experience every single day and their efforts to have a legally recognised relationship with their children.
Commenting Minister O’Brien said, “Over the past year I have met with representatives of ‘Irish Families through Surrogacy’ a number of times and I want to help in any way that I can.
“There has been substantial work and engagement on this issue since the formation of the Government between Ministers Helen McEntee, Stephen Donnelly and Roderic O’Gorman and the Attorney General and their respective officials.
“At Cabinet recently I strongly supported the establishment of a time limited Special Joint Oireachtas Committee to consider the issue of international surrogacy, including issues arising from commercial international surrogacy, and to report with recommendations. I am happy to say this Committee will get underway in a matter of weeks.
“The recommendations of the Special Joint Oireachtas Committee will then be taken into account by the Minister for Health as the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill progresses through the legislative process. Specifically, it is expected that any necessary legislative provisions which arise out of the report of the Special Joint Oireachtas Committee will be inserted into the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill at committee stage.
“While the Department of Health has responsibility for the forthcoming Health (Assisted Human Reproduction) Bill, issues which arise from international surrogacy, including commercial surrogacy in other jurisdictions, raise important questions in respect of rights and ethics, and concern areas of law that intersect across the remits of several Government Departments and I will be keeping in contact with my Cabinet colleagues as this matter progresses,” he concluded.
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, has approved the standards for Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) which were submitted by the Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority (AHBRA) in accordance with the provisions in the Housing (Regulation of Approved Housing Bodies) Act 2019.
Approved Housing Bodies are independent, not-for-profit organisations who, alongside Local Authorities, provide housing for people on the social housing waiting list or for particular groups, such as older people or homeless people. AHBs also include housing co-operatives, which are housing organisations controlled by their members/tenants who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions.
450 AHBs across Ireland are responsible for more than 43,000 homes and there are an estimated 8,000 social homes in the AHB build pipeline. AHBs are expected to provide about 43% of the 9,000 new-build social homes and almost half of the 1,580 Cost Rental homes due to be completed this year.
These social homes and Cost Rental targets are contained in Housing for All, the Government’s national plan on housing to 2030. Cost Rental is a new form of State-backed secure, long-term rental tenure through which rents are aimed at a minimum of 25% below open market rates.
The Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority (AHBRA) is an important element in support of this ambitious housing plan as it will oversee the effective governance, financial management and performance of all AHBs.
Approval of the draft standards marks an important milestone in the phased introduction of the powers and functions of AHBRA. The setting of standards is an integral part of the overall regulatory framework and functions of the Regulator.
The standards for AHBs have been developed following engagement with the sector and a wide range of key stakeholders. They are underpinned by the principles of proportionality, accountability and transparency. They establish a set of outcomes that AHBs are required to achieve in order to demonstrate the protection of housing assets provided or managed by AHBs.
AHBRA will publish the approved ‘Standards for AHBs’ on its website and all AHBs must comply with them. AHBRA will shortly prepare and issue guidance for AHBs to support the approved standards.
Minister O’Brien commented: “AHBRA and our AHBs will play a key role assisting the Department in meeting the objectives under Housing for All to enable a sustainable housing system in Ireland with a supply of good quality housing to match long-term needs, to promote social inclusion in our communities and to ensure that that existing housing stock is utilised to its fullest extent possible. Statutory regulation will provide further assurances to tenants, the public and potential investors that AHBs operate in a secure environment.
“I am pleased to approve the ‘Standards for AHBs’ and would encourage all AHBs to familiarize themselves with the standards and to prepare themselves for the introduction of regulation under a statutory framework,” he concluded.
€150,000 for Fingallians GFC
€112,253 for Malahide Rugby Club
€149,950 for O’Dwyers GAA Club
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and local Fingal TD Darragh O’Brien has welcomed the record funding which has been allocated to sports clubs in North County Dublin.
Commenting Minister O’Brien said, “This is a great day for sports clubs and community groups right around the country and I want to congratulate all of the successful applicants who I know worked extremely hard on their applications.
“I would particularly like to thank my local Councillors, Councillors Brigid Manton and Darragh Butler in Swords, Councillor Adrian Henchy and Brian Dennehy in Rush-Lusk and Councillor Eoghan O’Brien in Howth-Malahide who have worked closely with me to assist clubs in their applications.
“Without a doubt the pandemic has really highlighted the importance of sport for our collective wellbeing. There is a huge variety of different sports covered, from cricket to GAA, from golf to sailing and the grants announced today will significantly improve sports facilities across North County Dublin.
“Anybody involved in sport at local level knows the importance of the Sports Capital and Equipment Programme – I’m really delighted with the funding which has been allocated to our local clubs”, he concluded.
Some of the North Dublin Clubs include: