Saturday 21 April 2018

Local authorities get the green light to build 1,700 homes

Housing Minister Alan Kelly
Housing Minister Alan Kelly
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

The Government has announced plans to build 1,700 housing units as the first phase of an ambitious €3.8bn social housing programme.

Some 3,000 construction jobs will be created as 100 separate projects get under way at a cost of €312m.

The announcement is the first phase of a programme that promises to eliminate housing waiting lists by 2020 and provide 35,000 homes through a combination of purchase, direct build and long-term leasing.

Schemes will get under way in each local authority area, ranging from single units in rural areas to projects of 50 or more homes in Dublin.

This is despite concerns being raised about providing social housing in clusters and without a mixed tenure. There are 20 projects with 30 or more homes in each across the country.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly said the announcement was the beginning of addressing the housing crisis but more funding was needed.

"This is the first major investment in local authority housing for many years," he said.

"It represents a good start but with much more needing to be done.

"For many years during the Celtic Tiger, house-building was something many local authorities got out of. It has taken time, but with approximately 3,000 additional housing staff in local authorities, including planners and architects, the funding that is coming on-stream and aggressive investment, action is being taken to tackle the housing crisis."

The figures show the highest spend is in South Dublin County Council, where €40.8m will be spent delivering 203 homes. Some 6,217 people are currently on the council's housing waiting list.

Across the four Dublin local authorities, some €116m will be spent delivering 566 units.

Other areas of high demand include Cork city and county, where more than 11,000 are on waiting lists. Some €22m will be invested in 116 homes.

In Galway city and county, the total spend is €11.32m on 68 houses, where 4,570 are awaiting housing.

The lowest spend will be in Longford, where just €500,000 is earmarked for three houses. Some 597 people are on the local authority list.

The Department of the Environment said that most schemes were "shovel ready" with planning permission in place and that all would be completed by 2017.

A spokesman said that in general, there would be mixed tenure, where social housing was built alongside units for sale on the open market, but that in some cases it would not be possible.

"The projects submitted for clearance by the local authorities have been vetted on a number of fronts, including conforming with guidelines for sustainable communities and tenure mix," he said.

He added that a decision on whether rainwater harvesting systems would be installed would be a matter for local authorities. This is despite the fact they cost as little as €1,500 to install and could reduce water consumption by up to 50pc, helping to reduce household bills, with the cost of installation paid back over seven to 10 years.

Fianna Fáil Environment spokesman Barry Cowen said the announcement was a "PR stunt" that made "absolutely no difference" to people on waiting lists.

"The 90,000 families on social housing waiting lists across the country have heard all these promises before from Minister Kelly. But despite launches, re-launches and a litany of promises...not a single dent has been made in the housing crisis that has been left to escalate."

Irish Independent

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