Tuesday, 11 June 2019
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
Local Authority Housing Provision
I thank the Minister of State for his reply. He referred to a timeline of 59 weeks, but this is not happening before 59 weeks in many cases. Schemes such as those in Portarlington and Conniberry Way in Portlaoise are all very welcome and all necessary, and I know the Department has taken some steps in this regard, but the process is still very slow and very costly. Since about 2002 or 2003 there has been a requirement, introduced by the Department, that all houses must be architecturally designed. I can tell the Minister of State that the design has not improved. The requirement has led to high maintenance costs because of very bad decisions that look good on paper but are not practical. There are homes that were built in the years following the introduction of this requirement - I can take the Minister of State to them some day he is in County Laois - that finished up being very expensive to heat because of poor decision-making on the part of architects, so there are practical problems there. The four separate stages, as well as the number of steps within each of those four stages, drag out the process. The Part 8 process, whereby planning is passed at local level and the councillors are involved, is not the issue, in my experience. The councillors in general will move quickly with this. I have raised this with the Minister and the Minister of State in the past. What we need is a generic design. There is no reason we cannot have one. We often talk here about the number of houses that were built in the 1930s, 1950s and 1970s. I am not arguing with either the Minister or the Minister of State for a return to those designs because, obviously, we want modern designs, but there are good templates there. We should not be starting with a blank canvas with each scheme.