Saturday 17 March 2018

Councils told to identify land to fast-track for housing developments

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Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Local authorities have been told to identify land banks in their areas capable of delivering thousands of fast-track, affordable homes.

The Department of Housing has told councils in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford to report back on unused land which could be suitable for Strategic Development Zones (SDZs).

This process involves a local authority assembling a landbank, or bringing multiple land owners together, before seeking a special designation which deems the area to be of "economic or social importance".

A masterplan for the area must be prepared within two years of the SDZ designation.

The scheme can then be fast-tracked through the planning process to speed up delivery of homes.

The Irish Independent has learned that the candidate sites which could yield thousands of new homes include:

- In Cork City, part or all of the city docks, north and south. Some lands are held by the Port of Cork and CIE.

- Horgan's Quay, also in Cork city, some of which is currently being developed.

- Tivoli, which is where the Port of Cork container terminal is located.

- In Cork county, SDZs could be designated at Carrigtwohill and Midleton West.

- In Galway, lands between Oranmore and the city along the railway corridor called the Ardaun corridor.

- In Limerick, land around the city docks.

An analysis by the Housing Agency found that 90,193 homes were needed in the five counties of Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford between 2014 and 2018 just to meet demand.

Between 2014 and June this year, some 14,887 have been delivered.

This means that over 75,000 are needed within 30 months.

In a circular to the country's 31 local authorities, the Department of Housing said there was a need to bring new affordable housing on stream quickly, particular in urban areas.

"In order to maximise the potential of the SDZ process, the minister has requested that local authorities in and around the major metropolitan areas of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford consider further potential use of SDZs ... in urban areas of high demand," the letter says.

This will facilitate the "infrastructure and land-holding co-ordination necessary to bring forward new housing supply at scale, pace and that is affordable in direct response to market pressures".

SDZs are already in place in parts of Dublin, including Adamstown, the Docklands and Poolbeg.

A source said: "There are a number of really strong potential sites. We're open-minded in terms of what the local authorities come back with, if we're presented with sites with potential in areas of high demand."

Irish Independent

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