Wednesday, 11 November 2020
Planning and Development (Protect Social Housing) Bill 2020: First Stage
That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Planning and Development Act 2000 and to repeal section 97 subsection (3B).
I seek leave to introduce the Bill, which comes about because the scrapping of height guidelines by the previous Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government means there is a lacuna in legislation. Previously, any site that was 0.1 ha or smaller was exempt from the requirement to transfer units to the local authority for housing. Small sites which were just for developing four or five homes were exempt from providing public housing. I do not think there was any issue with this. The Bill will remove this exemption by the deletion of section 97 subsection (3B) of the Planning and Development Act 2000.
This Bill is being introduced because planning has been granted for a development on York Road, Ringsend, for a seven-storey apartment block. This development is very much out of character with the street, where the average home comprises a one, two or three-storey building. Having been granted permission for seven storeys, the developer has now reapplied for planning to change the build to a 15-storey apartment block with almost 50 new homes and no public housing. This has understandably angered the local community. Ringsend is an area that has a considerable need for social and affordable housing, as is the case in communities right across the inner city. Two and three generations of families are living in two and three-bedroom flats and towering beside these families, a developer is trying to avoid his obligation to provide social housing.
The community has developed and worked on this area. It is an attractive area with parks, sports clubs and community facilities. Developers are now swooping in on the back of the fantastic work that the community has done over the years to make Ringsend an attractive area in which to live. Those developers are going to maximise their profits and avoid doing anything for the community. They will just make money for the investors. The developers will promote and market this development using all the facilities that the community has fought hard to build over the decades. At the same time, they are avoiding providing housing in the area, which has a real need for social housing.
Ringsend needs to have a local area plan developed or the area will continue to have developer-led housing and community development. Across the inner city, many working families are being locked out of home ownership. The cost of a one-bedroom home is now running at €422,000 in Ringsend. That is far from affordable. I know that in other areas in the inner city, developers are looking for small plots of land and will be going higher and higher while, at the same time, avoiding the provision of social housing. Google and Facebook have come in, are buying up properties and driving many of the long-established and working families from the area. Long-time residents have an issue with affordability, If these gaps in legislation are not sealed, developers will be able to avoid providing any public housing.
The numbers on the social housing list are increasing daily and without public housing, these communities will become increasingly fragmented. Developers will be able to slip through the fence and avoid providing housing where there are small plots of land unless this Bill is passed. This is not only a Ringsend issue because it will happen right across the city and country unless the gap in legislation is filled. This Bill will do that.