Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Select Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government

Estimates for Public Services 2021
Vote 34 - Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Supplementary)

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Deputy for his question. I will also use the opportunity to commend those councillors who supported the Oscar Traynor Road development. That site has lain idle for 41 years. Many excuses were used by people as to why they would not, could not or should not support the provision of just short of 1,000 homes, when it is looked at overall. It is one of the biggest housing developments in Dublin. It has 40% social housing, 40% cost rental and 20% affordable purchase. I am also glad those councillors took the decision not to take what was seen as a short-term populist view to go back to the drawing board to find other mechanisms and other ways of doing it. We need to deliver homes. We are in the middle of a housing crisis. People want to see that delivery. I commend the councillors, Deputy McAuliffe, his colleagues and those across parties on their support for the Oscar Traynor Road development. Those who did not support it will have to answer for that. I want to see progress. We are moving things on now.

To be fair, the majority, though not all, of the committee supported the Affordable Housing Act. It is important Members know that, very significantly, the Act gives us the ability to be able to vary the affordable subvention, especially in areas where affordability is acute, such as Dublin, Cork and other regional cities. Without going into the financial details of the Oscar Traynor Road site, one thing that was asked of me by Deputy McAuliffe when he was Lord Mayor, before his election to the Dáil, by the previous Lord Mayor Hazel Chu and by the current Lord Mayor Alison Gilliland was to ensure we would have flexibility to be able to help on affordability. I am using that development as an example. I do not want to dwell on one particular site, but we have been able to do that now. That flexibility has been allowed because of the legislation we have passed and because we have cost rental in place.

In thinking about what this Government has done, with very significant input from Deputy Duffy and the Chairman around the whole cost rental piece, we already have people in cost rental tenancies and a pipeline for hundreds more next year. That is actual delivery and getting stuff done. It is not just talking about it, debating it or going back around to see what is perfect for people. We need homes for people. It has been good and positive so let us be positive about that.

Everything next year has got to be about delivery. We have now provided the tools for local authorities to deliver on affordable and social housing. We will get their housing delivery action plans, which are on their way to me. They are being concluded. I am working with my team in the Department with the intention of publishing those plans on or about 17 December when we have collated the details. We will certainly publish them by December or early January in order that it will be very clear what each local authority is responsible for delivering. To be fair, the local authorities have worked very well with us as partners. We spent a lot of time working with them on the new affordable measures. This is new. Let us remember most local authorities have not delivered an affordable house in 15 years. We have new schemes in place now. Our shared equity scheme is in place, which will deliver next year, separate to local authorities, and will help those who are renting right now or living with their folks, who feel they will never be able to own a home, to be able to get homes.

Next year will be a good year for delivery, but we need all our councillors to understand they are also responsible for delivering homes. That is why I continue to encourage councillors not to oppose Part 8 planning applications or to find reasons to oppose provision of social, affordable and cost rental housing. I ask them to find reasons to support it, not to delay things and to recognise the fact that people want and need homes. It is not just a want but a right. If we are going to do that, we all have to work together. We now have Housing for All, which has more than €20 billion in funding, our affordable housing fund in place and set up, and a social housing programme that is bigger than has ever been previously delivered multi-annually. That is what will make a big difference to our local authorities. They now have line of sight on their capital provision multi-annually. That is important because we can plan and work with them. I am very confident about how we will move on into the future. We will be working with the committee and the local government sector to ensure we deliver on our targets next year.


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