Friday, 7 September 2018
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
Social and Affordable Housing Provision
1376. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the actions he has taken on foot of the review of delivery costs and viability for affordable residential developments. [36314/18]
Under the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan, my Department committed to undertaking a detailed analysis, in conjunction with the construction sector, of housing delivery input costs in Ireland.
To advance this work, a working group, chaired by my Department, was established to review the delivery costs and viability for affordable residential developments in the domestic market. The group analysed each of the main input costs (land, construction, professional fees, development levies, finance & development margins and VAT). In parallel, the Housing Agency carried out a separate comparative analysis of international construction costs.
The initial findings of the Department's review identified the viability of urban apartment schemes at affordable price levels was extremely challenging. To resolve the current housing shortage, as well as to plan more effectively for our future under Project Ireland 2040, under which more compact growth such as apartments are urgently needed in our urban centres, I established a working group to undertake a focused review of the 2015 Sustainable Urban Housing: Design Standards for New Apartments – Guidelines for Planning Authorities to explore how to improve the viability of apartment development in our cities and towns, with a cost analysis also carried out. The revised guidelines were published in March 2018 and are available at the following link:
To further support the delivery of apartments, I published draft Urban Development and Building Heights Guidelines for Planning Authorities last month for public consultation. These guidelines set out new and updated national planning policy on building heights in relation to urban areas, elaborating on the strategic policy framework set out in Project Ireland 2040 and the National Planning Framework, and are part of a suite of integrated measures and policy shifts to break the current patterns and development trends for our cities and towns and create more compact and integrated communities. The closing date for submissions is Monday, 24 September 2018.
In summary, my Department published three separate cost reports:
- Review of Delivery Costs and Viability for Affordable Residential Developments;
- Cost analysis of the updated "Sustainable Urban Housing: Design Standards for New Apartments, Guidelines for Planning Authorities"; and
- Comparison of Residential Construction Costs in Ireland to other European Countries,
on 12 April 2018, which are available on my Department’s website at the following link:
Each of these reports is important in terms of analysing key elements of delivery in our housing sector as well as providing robust responses. Viability in affordable home building is essential as the sector recovers and the Government continues to implement solutions in this area.
As Minister, I have been clear that we need to address housing affordability, recognising the pressures that exist for low- to middle-income households, particularly in Dublin and certain other of our main urban centres. The delivery of targeted affordable housing, for purchase and rent, was a priority topic at the third Housing Summit which I held with Local Authority Chief Executives in July. It also featured prominently at the post-Housing Summit meeting with Local Authority Housing Directors of Service.
Affordability measures to support the provision of more affordable homes include the commencement of a new statutory scheme for affordable purchase which will be complementary to other Government Schemes which help first-time buyers to buy homes, such as the Help to Buy Scheme and the new Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan. Furthermore, a number of cost rental pilot projects are being developed by local authorities in Dublin, in cooperation with the Housing Agency, Approved Housing Bodies and the European Investment Bank, to provide homes to rent at below market rates, with the intention to roll out the concept across other suitable sites in urban areas. In addition, Exchequer funding of €75 million is being provided under the Serviced Sites Fund to help to offset the costs of providing both on-site and off-site enabling infrastructure for sites in order for them to be brought into use for affordable housing. The call for proposals has recently closed and I expect to award an initial tranche of funding next month.
Finally, the imminent establishment of the new Land Development Agency to assist in ensuring a more effective approach to strategic land management, particularly in terms of publicly owned land with a particular emphasis on complex regeneration projects and the provision of affordable housing, and the creation by my colleague the Minister for Finance of the new Home Building Finance Ireland (HBFI) initiative, which will provide finance at commercially competitive rates to developers with sites ready-to-go but who are experiencing difficulty in obtaining funding, will also contribute to the increased supply of new homes including homes at more affordable price levels to buy and rent.