LDA could charge for parking spaces at Dundrum affordable housing scheme

Housing development at Central Mental Hospital site in south Dublin being led by Land Development Agency

The Central Mental Hospital site at Dundrum in Dublin. Charging for parking spaces would be aimed at discouraging car usage. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The Central Mental Hospital site at Dundrum in Dublin. Charging for parking spaces would be aimed at discouraging car usage. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The Land Development Agency (LDA) could charge tenants for parking spaces at its proposed affordable housing scheme on the site of the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum as a way of discouraging car usage, its chief executive has said.

Speaking to Inside Business, a podcast from The Irish Times, John Coleman outlined how the LDA is likely to come forward with a plan for 1,000 housing units on the 11-hectare site. These would mostly be apartments made available at rents about a third below the market rate.

With surrounding roads already heavily congested with traffic, Mr Coleman said the LDA would look at ways of “incentivising” other forms of travel.

“It’s a challenge; traffic is bad on that road. That is a site 750 metres from a Luas station. It has great cycling connectivity to the city centre, too. We would like to cut down on the number of car spaces as well. If the LDA ends up . . . managing that scheme when it’s built, I think we will incentivise away from the use of cars perhaps by charging for parking spaces. That’s something that’s on our agenda.”

The site has yet to be handed over to the LDA for development purposes but plans by the agency to build high-rise apartments there have been met with significant local opposition, due to the size and scale of the proposed scheme.

Mr Coleman acknowledged the local opposition and said the LDA would “consult pretty extensively” before lodging its planning application next year. But he added that there was also a “chronic need to deliver [affordable] housing in that area”.

Housing crisis

The LDA was set up three years ago to deliver new housing on State-owned land, as a key policy measure to tackle the housing crisis. It has been given a budget of €3.5 billion for the next five years, and currently has plans to deliver 21,000 units.

Mr Coleman said its affordable housing would be targeted at families with household incomes of between €45,000 and €80,000 – people who typically don’t qualify for social housing but also can’t afford to purchase a property on the open market.

He indicated that into the long term the LDA could seek an external investor for its portfolio of affordable housing, to bring more money into the sector and to give the Government wider policy options for the delivery of affordable housing.

“To establish cost rental as a sector and to perhaps garner investment into the future, low and slow operators like pension companies and investment funds would be desirable, so that the State doesn’t have to pay for every single thing that comes in the affordable space,” he said.

Mr Coleman said this would probably require a portfolio of about 10,000 homes to be put together to attract such an investor, with any sum paid by a pension fund being used to fund the delivery of other housing. “If you take a 10-year view it does make sense to attract that money into the space,” he said, adding that the funds come from bonds or via other means.

“For the broader system to be able to garner investment into affordable housing does make sense. That will only come if there is a proven model and I think there is an opportunity for the LDA to prove the model.”