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Government gets it wrong again on Social Housing - Cllr Sorcha Nic Cormaic

14 September, 2018 - by Sorcha Nic Cormaic

Sinn Féin Cllr for Dundrum Sorcha Nic Cormaic has roundly criticised the recent announcement by the government proposing a new Land Development Agency.

On hearing the news, being loudly trumpeted by government reps in the constituency of Dublin Rathdown, Cllr Nic Cormaic said: 

“It is a very worrying development. At first glance it appears to be a good idea: giving an agency the power to combine public land holdings to ensure they are used to their highest potential. 

"However the devil is in the detail, and once again we see the Government’s blind over-reliance on the private sector. 

"What’s being proposed will in fact hamper the delivery of public housing and do nothing to meet the housing need, nor address the homeless crisis.

“It seems the Government is going to use the new agency to bypass Local Authorities and to replicate the controversial Joint Venture/Land Initiative funding model. 

"This model sees public land being sold to private developers and between 50% and 70% of the houses delivered on the site then sold at market prices for private profit.

“This is not the most effective use of public land and will limit the ability of the state to deliver the level of public housing that is required to meet social and affordable housing need.

"The Joint Venture/Land Initiative model is also incredibly slow, adding at least an extra 18 months to the overall development timeline. 

"This is because each project is subject to a competitive negotiation between the private developer and the agency before a preferred bidder is approved. 

"Then the project has to go through the already slow planning and development process.

"In Dundrum the publicly-owned site at the Central Mental Hospital is beginning to undergo the process."

Cllr Sorcha Nic Cormaic has been calling for this land to be transferred from the OPW to the Council to provide much needed social and affordable homes to address the ever increasing housing list and to allow for people on low to middle incomes acquire homes.   

Cllr Nic Cormaic continued:

“It makes no sense to allow for 60% of this land to be handed over to private developers when the land is already in public ownership. The housing list is in a critical condition and this move is actually going to make matters worse.

“The solution would be for the Land Development Agency to focus solely on the strategic management of public and private land. 

"Where sites are deemed appropriate for residential development, Local Authorities should be funded to develop the sites focusing on social, affordable rental and affordable sale homes.

“This would allow Councils to deliver a much larger volume of social and affordable homes in order to meet existing and future housing need. 

"If this was combined with a reform of the Department of Housing’s approval, tender, and procurement process, we would see a large volume of good quality social and affordable homes delivered faster and at a lower cost than under the Government’s current proposals.

“There is a precedent, and a perfect example here in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown, which the Minister is well aware of.  The Shangannagh Urban Village is using council owned land to provide 100% social and affordable housing.  

"This needs to be replicated across the country, and the Government’s proposal either binned, or drastically altered, until it suits the needs of the people needing housing rather than the developers.”

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