Monday 22 January 2018

Coveney's housing plan unlikely to meet its deadline

Housing Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Tom Burke
Housing Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Housing Minister Simon Coveney has conceded that his action plan for housing is not likely to be launched within the first 100 days of government as promised.

Mr Coveney made the admission at the Dáil's Housing and Homelessness committee. The Programme for Government includes a commitment to publish the plan within the first 100 days - which is mid-August.

Mr Coveney said a more likely launch date would be the end of that month or into September. He said the plan would include "a proactive and aggressive work programme to implement it and ensure it works".

He said it could be released at the end of July "before everybody heads off on holidays", but that was "not the kind of momentum we want the project to generate".

Meanwhile, Mr Coveney said he accepted there were no longer 230,000 vacant homes in the country. The figure - highlighted by the Housing Agency in recent weeks - comes from the 2011 Census.

Mr Coveney said up-to-date statistics would be available towards the end of this month.

He said even if there were just 100,000 vacant properties left, a "decent proportion" could be used for social housing. He said buying such properties would be a "much quicker process than building".

AAA-PBP's Ruth Coppinger said the number of social housing units built should be higher than the 10pc threshold required by law. She said that with 100,000 people on the housing list, "we would need to build one million houses".

Mr Coveney said the Part V law she was referring to sets out 10pc as a minimum but said "many developments go beyond that".

He mentioned the Glass Bottle site in Dublin where there were plans to build as many as 3,000 units and said he hoped the number of social housing units there would be "way more" than 10pc.

Fine Gael's Fergus O'Dowd said various State agencies had land banks and raised the example of Gormanstown army camp in Co Meath which has 200 acres and is on a motorway and rail line. He suggested such areas could be used for housing.

Mr Coveney said he would "look at it" and added that Irish Rail also has land banks in good locations but the transport company would have to be compensated for their use.

Irish Independent

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