Wednesday, 4 October 2006
Noel Ahern (Minister of State, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Minister of State, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Dublin North West, Fianna Fail)
Prevailing house price differentials mean the environment is generally favourable for people who wish to trade down to smaller homes. Ultimately, this is not merely a financial matter, but rather a question of personal choice, depending on a household's circumstances and on connections to wider family and community. Our strategy has and will continue to be to increase housing supply to meet the diversity of demand. The residential density guidelines for planning authorities, issued by my Department six years ago, highlighted the need for a mix of dwelling types. The increased availability of a range of size and types of dwellings in new residential developments should assist people who wish to move to smaller homes in the same neighbourhood.
The Government is committed also in the social partnership agreement Towards 2016 to increasing the mix of dwelling types of good design across all tenures. Investment over the period 2007 to 2009 will enable increased output from social and affordable housing measures. This will include sheltered housing, which is an option for people on lower incomes who find that their accommodation no longer meets their needs. Already a number of local authorities operate "financial contribution schemes" under which private housing is part-exchanged for social rented accommodation specifically designed for older people. In addition, the voluntary and co-operative housing sector may use the discretion available to it under the capital assistance scheme to allocate up to 25% of units in its projects in a similar fashion.