Agency may demand over 40% social and affordable housing on idle lands

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The Government’s new €1.25 billion Land Development Agency may demand more than 40 per cent social and affordable housing on private land that has lain idle for years, an Oireachtas Committee will hear on Wednesday.

This will be “negotiated as a quid pro quo” for facilitating development on vacant sites, the agency’s interim chief executive John Coleman will tell the Joint Committee on Housing.

The committee will hear from four of the biggest local authorities and a senior planning official at the Department of Housing, on how best to develop public land.

Mr Coleman will say while the LDA’s primary target is to get housing built on public land-banks, “it is important to state we are not limiting our focus to where the State has land . . .We are also examining the potential to unlock delivery on wholly privately held areas which could be developed or redeveloped but where nothing is happening currently”.

The LDA, announced by the Government in September, has yet to be formally established. It will have compulsory purchase powers and will identify and release land banks for the construction of 150,000 homes over 20 years.

Mr Coleman expects about 3,000 homes will be delivered on an initial portfolio of eight sites. And while the agency will require at least 40 per cent of housing on public land to be social and affordable: “In relation to non-State lands the agency may seek . . . additional affordable homes as a negotiated quid pro quo for facilitating development in certain areas.”

Five large sites

Fingal County Council will tell the committee almost 50,000 homes could be provided in its area if all 1,700 hectares of zoned land was successfully developed. It has identified five large sites it wants developed to deliver 3,730 homes. These are at Ballymastone in Donabate, Cappagh in Finglas and Churchfields in Mulhuddart which are owned by the council; and at Castlelands in Balbriggan and Hacketstown in Skerries, both owned by the Housing Agency.

Ann Doherty, chief executive of Cork City Council, will say there is an “urgency” to addressing the city’s “housing supply shortage” which, “unless it is tackled . . . is clearly a potential obstacle to future employment and economic growth in Cork City”.

 ‘Considerable resource’

More than 19,000 homes could be delivered on zoned land in the city, though infrastructure will be needed on lands for over 13,000 of these. The council owns 41.25 hectares of land that is zoned residential, though a further 114 hectares are owned by such bodies as the HSE (which owns 20.5 hectares of vacant or underutilised, zoned land), Irish Rail (2.5 hectares) and the Port of Cork (61 hectares).

 “These publicly owned lands represent a considerable resource. It is Cork City Council’s position that they should be brought forward for development as soon as practicable. . .

 “[The council] also urges Government to address in appropriate circumstances underutilised private lands, even if this requires a re-examination of the protections currently afforded to private property in the Constitution,” says Ms Doherty.

This article was first seen on: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/agency-may-demand-over-40-social-and-affordable-housing-on-idle-lands-1.3665907

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