State to offer more than 800 sites for at least 50,000 new homes

Land that could deliver at least 50,000 houses to be made available to developers

Four in Dublin alone are capable of providing 3,000 homes, including at least 1,000 social units. Photo: PA

Paul Melia

More than 800 sites owned by local authorities and public bodies will be offered to the private market to help boost housing supply.

Land banks totalling 2,000 hectares and controlled by city and county councils and other bodies including CIÉ, the IDA and HSE, are to be offered to private developers and housing associations in an effort to resolve the housing crisis and provide at least 50,000 new homes.

Four in Dublin alone are capable of providing 3,000 homes, including at least 1,000 social units.

Expressions of interest from developers will be sought over the coming days.

The Department of Housing has also identified 30 sites owned by public bodies in the main cities of Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick and Waterford totalling around 200 hectares, another 73 controlled by the Housing Agency of 250 hectares and a massive 1,500 hectare land bank comprising 700 sites controlled by city and county councils.

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They include 18 hectares near Galway Port, the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum, Department of Defence lands in Mullingar and more than two hectares at Connolly Station in Dublin.

Others are as small as one-10th of a hectare and could be used for co-operative housing.

The Irish Independent has learned that developers will be invited to build homes under a licensing arrangement where land could be sold, provided for free, subject to a long-term lease or arrangement where the land cost is repaid after units are sold.

Sources said the State would have to achieve a return for offering the lands, such as provision of new social homes.

Appraisals of each site will be completed prior to the lands being offered, to set out the maximum number of units possible.

Sources said it provided an "opportunity" to boost housing supply on lands located in areas of high demand.

"There could be a disruptive element as well," one said.

"These developments could also force other developers to get building. This shows the opportunities. Councils will be asked if there's a plan for their sites, and if not, why not?

"These lands were bought for housing and we want to see them developed. The (housing) minister is putting it up to local authorities and other public bodies to deliver homes on State lands. This is gigantic in scale, and a once in 100 years opportunity to get it right."

Local authorities will be free to dictate the number of homes for each site, and mix of tenure types. They could also set upper price limits for starter homes or other units, and oblige developers to provide affordable rental, private rental or housing for the elderly.

Developments on local authority lands will also benefit from a fast-track planning process. The details will be revealed by Housing Minister Simon Coveney today at the launch of a new Housing Land Map, which sets out residentially owned lands and those in control of public bodies, which is suitable for housing.