Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Government plans benefit developers, not those who need housing – Ellis

15 June, 2015 - by Dessie Ellis TD

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has criticised the government's plans to reform Part V of the Planning and Development act as a scheme which will benefit developers much more than Local Authorities or those in housing need.

He made his comments in advance of a Dáil debate on the Urban Regeneration and Development Bill which would reduce the responsibility of developers to support social and affordable housing by half and remove the ability for councils to charge a levy rather than buy homes built by a particular developer.

He also welcomed the proposal of a vacant site levy, but said that it needed to be stronger and it could not be left until 2018 as planned by the government.

Deputy Ellis said:

“The Affordable Housing scheme allowed local authorities to purchase housing built by private developers at a below market rate. This was an invaluable scheme for many people who could neither access social housing nor afford the excessive house prices which prevail to this day. 

“Affordable Housing under Part V delivered nearly 10,000 homes for families priced out of the market between 2004 and 2011 when the government closed the scheme. Instead of reintroducing the Affordable Housing scheme or making social housing account for the 10% requirement lost through the closed scheme, the government are seeking to limit what is left of Part V.

“In the past, cash strapped councils could take money from developers instead of buying homes which might not have been the best way to deliver new council homes. This was open to misuse and some councils used it to cover costs elsewhere due to general under funding of local authorities. These funds should have been ring fenced.

“Instead, this government will ban that practice. This will mean councils will have to buy from developers or pass up on housing. Under this scheme, the developers can even fill their responsibility to social housing by renting to councils for just below the market’s already exorbitant rate of rent.

“This is a plan to ensure more private profit from housing, guarantee return for developers at the expense of the council, but it is in no way a plan to help those in housing need.

“Sinn Fein welcome the vacant site levy in this Bill, but believe it could be stronger and needs to be brought forward. The start date of 2018 is not soon enough in the midst of a deepening housing crisis.” 

Connect with Sinn Féin