Question No. 162

To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his Department has explored alternative ways in which local authorities can acquire land, as a consequence of the McHugh v Kildare County Council, 2005 IEHC 356 (2005) Supreme Court Decision, and the proposals in place to deal with the lack of housing stock within local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Anthony Lawlor.

For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 20th February, 2014.

Ref No: 8662/14


The housing and budgetary landscape has changed dramatically since 2005. That is why the Government, in its housing policy statement published in 2011, presented a new approach to the provision of social housing. The financial parameters in which we will be operating for the coming years rule out a return by local authorities to very large capital funded construction programmes of the kind requiring extensive land.

The priority in terms of supports provided by Government must be on meeting the most acute needs, responding through a variety of mechanisms, and using more flexible funding models. To maximise the social housing gain from constrained resources, the social housing leasing initiative and the Rental Accomodation Scheme each play their part as long term social housing supports. Alongside expanding the role of the Approved Housing Bodies in terms of acquisitions and construction, other mechanisms will include options to purchase within the leasing model and build to lease.

Through these and other approaches, I expect that in the region of 5,000 social housing units will be provided this year. I am committed to continuing to develop innovative and sustainable approaches to the provision of social housing in the future.

The Housing Agency is developing a strategy, in collaboration with my Department, for the utilisation of lands in its ownership which will support Government policies in developing sustainable communities. This will involve consultation with the relevant local authority and other appropriate parties. The proper management of all State land is critical; accordingly, both lands that have been transferred to the Housing Agency and lands suitable for development but not transferred to the Agency will be the first sites considered in any targeted social housing building programme developed in the years ahead.