-Commercial rates waiver for Q1 also agreed by Cabinet-
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien TD has confirmed the reintroduction of the eviction moratorium from midnight as a result of the return of 5km restrictions on people’s movements.
Minister O’Brien also confirmed that his Department is working on a package to cover commercial rates waivers for affected businesses for Q1 2021 and that construction remains an essential service under these new restrictions.
Commenting the Minister said, “The urgent legislation which we enacted back in October means that any time there is a 5km restriction imposed on people’s movements, in line with public health restrictions, the moratorium on evictions automatically kicks-in.
“This legislation gives tenants clear legal protections by effectively stopping evictions for the period of duration of 5km travel restrictions and by adding a further ten-day grace period to allow people to find new accommodation in the very small number of cases in which this may be necessary.
“While there was some opposition to this targeted and balanced measure back in October it is clear that this legislation, along with the legislation protecting tenants in rent arrears due to Covid-19 and at risk of losing their tenancy which was first enacted back in August and will operate into April 2021, is working to protect those most affected by this pandemic.”
Minister O’Brien also confirmed that Local Authorities would be supported by Government to provide commercial rates waivers to businesses forced to close during these new level 5 restrictions.
Commenting he said, “These additional restrictions are very disappointing for business owners across the country having to shut their doors once more. Having worked closely with Tánaiste Varadkar and in consultation with the Taoiseach we agreed that a commercial rates waiver would offer struggling businesses some relief.
“It is expected that this further rates waiver will cost in the region of €160m and by providing this funding my Department is ensuring that Local Authorities can continue their vital work without fear of financial hardship. To date my Department has paid out approximately €730 million euro in commercial rates waivers to Local Authorities.”
Finally Minister O’Brien confirmed that construction would remain an essential service under the new restrictions saying, “The construction sector is not only a key driver of our economy, but it is also vital to addressing our most pressing social problem – our housing shortfall. I want to see house builds completed, new projects get off the ground and adaptation works take place. It is important that we make up for ground lost to COVID-19 earlier in the year and that we reach the maximum possible output while ensuring the safety of those working in the sector. Since the outbreak of the pandemic the construction industry has responded swiftly and I’d like to thank them again for their resilience,” he concluded.
Minister O’Brien approves capital commitment for significant investment of almost €90 million by Irish Water in two key projects to increase resilience and security of treated water supply in the Greater Dublin Area
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD along with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has approved capital commitments for investment of almost €90 million between the Saggart Resevoir Project and Ballycoolen Trunk Watermain Project for commencement in 2021.
Commenting Minister O’Brien said, “Both of these Irish Water projects will improve the security and resilience of treated water supply to the Greater Dublin Area (GDA). Irish Water will now be able to proceed with works for both projects early in 2021 with construction expected to take over two years to complete. These projects will also contribute towards increasing the capacity to cater for residential and commercial development across the Dublin region.
The Saggart Resevoir Project includes the design and construction of a new 100 million litres (ML) covered treated water reservoir at the existing Saggart Waterworks (originally constructed in 1951) to store water supplied from Ballymore Eustace Water Treatment Plant. The delivery of strategic storage at Saggart is one of three measures identified by Irish Water to meet the increasing demands within the GDA in advance of a long term water supply solution, the other two being to transfer spare capacity in the Srowland Water Treatment Plant in Athy to the GDA, and to deliver leakage reduction throughout the region. Some 600 ML/day of treated water currently produced in the GDA Water Network meets existing demand levels to supply approximately 1.5m customers in Dublin and the surrounding areas. However, there is limited headroom capacity available - only c. 3% (c.18ML/d) and at times of water stress (e.g. drought) this limited capacity can be reduced further.
The Ballycoolen Trunk Watermain Project involves the design and construction of a new 9km trunk watermain providing additional pipeline capacity between the strategic storage capacity at Ballycoolen Reservoir (which stores treated water sourced from the Leixlip Water Treatment Plant) and Swords.
Minister O’Brien added, “This project will improve security of supply and provide greater network resilience in the GDA. It will mean an increase in the capacity of the existing strategic network to cater for existing and future residential and commercial development and enable long term social and economic development of the wider Fingal area where I am acutely aware of the challenges which exist,” he concluded.
-Govt also gives approval to Land Development Agency Bill 2020-
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, has welcomed the approval given at Cabinet for the priority drafting of the Affordable Housing Bill 2020 and to the text of the Land Development Agency Bill 2020.
Minister O’Brien said that when enacted, both Bills, which deliver on key commitments in the Programme for Government, would accelerate the provision of high quality housing for purchase or rent at an affordable price.
The Affordable Housing Bill 2020 provides for the establishment of a new Affordable Purchase Shared Equity scheme which will see the State take an equity share in a home while the owner takes out a mortgage with a bank on the remainder as usual. It is intended that the scheme, which will be finalised in the coming months, will be open to all new build homes subject to price caps and targeted at first time buyers. The Bill will also, for the first time, define ‘Cost Rental’ as a new form of tenure and place it on a statutory footing. This legislation will provide the basis for the first 400 Cost Rental homes in the State which will be delivered in 2021 with many more in the pipeline in the years thereafter.
The Land Development Agency Bill 2020 will see the LDA established as Designated Activity Company (DAC) through primary legislation. This will allow the LDA to drive strategic land assembly to ensure the sustainable development of new and regenerated communities well-served by essential services.
Commenting on the Affordable Housing 2020 Bill Minister O’Brien said, “The introduction of an Affordable Purchase Shared Equity scheme will assist those who do not qualify for social housing but are struggling financially to meet their housing needs from the market. It will help them secure their own home by bridging the gap between the mortgage available to them and the price of the home they want. By doing this it will also boost housing supply.
“The final details of the scheme are being negotiated with stakeholders and will be informed by our engagement with the EU Commission but I am very glad to have received cabinet approval for the priority drafting of the Bill and look forward to taking it through the Oireachtas at the earliest opportunity.
Speaking about the Land Development Agency Bill 2020 he added, “Through this Bill, the LDA will be empowered to provide homes for affordable purchase, cost rental and social housing. They will be tasked with putting in place appropriate mechanisms and collaborative structures between public and other bodies to develop public lands and other lands and will provide advice on the management and use of such lands.
“Both of these Bills represent a critical step for the Government in delivering the commitments under ‘Housing for All’ – increasing social housing stock, putting the dream of homeownership back in reach and providing peace of mind to those looking for security of tenure,” he concluded.
Ministers O’Brien & Noonan announce €1 million to support restoration works at St Patrick’s Cathedral
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien TD and Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan TD have allocated €1 million to St Patrick’s Cathedral to ensure the completion of repair works on main roof.
St Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest medieval church in Ireland. It is one of Ireland’s most important historic structures, still operating for its original purpose 800 years after its construction. Although substantially restored in the mid-nineteenth century, the Cathedral still retains a significant amount of medieval fabric, including medieval roof timbers. St. Patrick’s was initiated by the arrival of the Normans to Ireland in 1169, the existing timber church on the site was rebuilt in the new stone technologies of the time and in 1191 Archbishop John Comyn raised the status of Saint Patrick’s to that of a Cathedral. This made St. Patrick’s with Christchurch Cathedral one of two cathedral’s in Dublin, which was unusual for medieval times.
In announcing the funding Minister O Brien said:
“St Patrick’s, in terms of its location, antiquity and scale is one of the most important buildings on the island of Ireland. To pause the roof project would entail not only financial risk but a grave physical risk to the future of this historic medieval building. I know that all financial plans were carefully stress tested, but the Cathedral could never have envisaged undertaking the project through a time where it experienced zero income due to the necessary public health restrictions in place to combat COVID-19. Along with Minister Noonan I am very pleased to announce additional support of €1m today.”
Minister Noonan added:
“Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is of significant economic importance to surrounding businesses in this area of Dublin. It is one of Ireland’s most important historic structures, still operating for its original purpose 800 years after its construction, and, in normal times welcoming in excess of 600,000 visitors annually. It is also important to note that the major national roof conservation project at the Cathedral provides employment for many skilled Irish craftspeople.”
The Cathedral has been involved in an ongoing conservation repair programme with the most significant part of the programme being the repair of the main roof. The Conservation works will continue into next year.
Commenting on the announcement, the Dean and Ordinary of Saint Patrick's Cathedral, the Very Reverend Dr William Morton, said:
"My gratitude to the Department is immeasurable for the kindness behind this major grant of €1million to the Roof project of Saint Patrick's Cathedral.
"This most welcome funding towards this essential work will ensure that the Cathedral is conserved and continues to serve as one of Ireland's top listed buildings in terms of heritage and culture in the widest sense - ecclesiastically, musically, architecturally, and economically - as a destination ever increasing in popularity in the higher regions of visitors' 'must see' list in Dublin.
"Saint Patrick's Cathedral offers a rich and compelling cultural experience, and this grant strikes a chord of optimism that 2021 and beyond will augur well in terms of the return of visitors - national and international - whom we look forward to welcoming to our vibrant cathedral community.
"I wish to offer my deepest thanks to Minister Darragh O'Brien and to Minister of State in his department, Malcolm Noonan for their much appreciated help and support."
Minister O’Brien announces ‘Call for Proposals’ to AHBs for delivery of 350 Cost Rental Homes in 2021
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien T.D., has today [Monday 14 December] issued a ‘Call for Proposals’ for his Department’s new Cost Rental Equity Loan (CREL) scheme. This is another important step in the Minister’s drive to deliver new affordable housing options and marks the formal commencement of this new scheme.
The fund will support Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) to deliver approximately 350 cost rental homes next year. Funding of €35 million has been made available for this scheme under Budget 2021. This forms part of a larger allocation of €468 million for all housing affordability measures.
The Programme for Government, Housing for All, commits the Government to the development of a new cost rental housing sector in Ireland, in which the rents charged will be set to cover the costs of delivering, managing, and maintaining the homes.
The CREL scheme will accelerate the implementation of this new cost rental sector by AHBs, prior to the delivery of further homes by the Land Development Agency and directly by Local Authorities.
The scheme will see long-term loans on favourable terms made available to AHBs to cover up to 30% of the development or acquisition cost of new cost rental homes. This state assistance in securing financing will mean that AHB landlords can set lower cost-covering rents for cost rental tenants. It is expected that the remaining development or acquisition costs for the homes will be met by long-term commercial loans from the Housing Finance Agency, which has confirmed it will make a corresponding €100 million available next year.
Minister O’Brien said, “In the Budget I announced the first new national funding model for cost rental homes. Approved Housing Bodies have consistently demonstrated their capacity and expertise in developing and managing homes for the social housing sector. This new scheme provides for an expanded role for the AHB sector, enabling it to support moderate-income households in need of quality, affordable homes.”
Housing Finance Agency CEO Barry O’Leary said, “The HFA is delighted to be in a position to make €100 million in long-term, fixed-rate finance available for this new initiative, which will increase the suite of lending products we provide for AHBs.”
Cost rental aims to help households with moderate income access affordable, secure tenancies in accommodation suitable to their needs. The establishment of a cost rental model is intended to promote an increased supply of affordable homes in areas where there is a high demand for housing.
The Minister also confirmed his intention to place Ireland’s new cost rental sector on a statutory footing indicating that a new affordable housing Bill will be brought to Government in the coming weeks. While precise eligibility conditions and operational matters for cost rental are being finalised as part of this process, this legislation will be an important element in defining and regulating this new sector.
Whilst pointing to the need for immediate delivery, the Minister indicated that the collective experience in bringing on stream these first cost rental homes in the State will be used to inform the ongoing policy development process policy. This will support the emergence of the optimum approach for the wider roll out of the model across local authorities, the Land Development Agency and Approved Housing Bodies.
The Minister ended “Today’s announcement means that cost rental is now up and running for applications and will deliver the first ever cost rental homes in the State in 2021. This was my commitment, and I would like to pay tribute to the way in which officials across my own Department, Approved Housing Bodies, the Housing Agency and the Housing Finance Agency have worked collaboratively and with the urgency I sought in bringing this programme to fruition,” he concluded.
Notes to Editors: