Thursday, 11 July 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I would like to be associated with the comments of others on the sad passing of Brendan Grace and Noel Whelan. Both men made a significant contribution to Irish life in very different ways.
The issue I wish to raise today is one which would have been close to the heart of John Bailey, who also passed away recently. He was a councillor who was very much involved in watching housing development and looking for housing for his constituents. The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, has told me that the Government has approved the general scheme for the land development agency Bill for publication and priority drafting. The scheme provides for up to a €1.25 billion capitalisation of the Land Development Agency from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, ISIF, and the first planning permission is expected to be lodged in the autumn. The agency is actively engaged with councillors in Dublin on State landbanks, and it is particularly active in Balbriggan in Fingal, where there is potential for 800 homes, and in Skerries, where there is potential for 200 homes. It is also engaged in the development for 550 homes of the former Shanganagh Prison site in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, and it will be engaged in the redevelopment of the former Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum. These are just a few of the locations involved, and this is good news as it will give rise to affordable housing.
The Land Development Agency will use these State lands in the interest of providing this so I ask for the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, to come into the House to provide an update on the LDA's plans and activities. It is actively engaging with councils, including Fingal, on positive home development. I would like the Minister to outline some real projects to the House and to explain how the cost rental situation will work in practice, where homes will be available to rent for the long term for €1,200 per month. How will the affordable purchase scheme work? I am sure my Seanad colleagues would also like to have this information. The first application being due in the autumn, it is reasonable to get the Minister to come here at the first opportunity to give us an outline of what is happening and what the plans are.
This is good news for people who desperately need homes and is something local communities will also be interested in. They can be reassured about the scheme by having the details around what is planned so that a vacuum does not develop in which all sorts of rumour and negativity can develop.