LDA sets out plan to become engine of affordable homes supply

Agency chief says it is on track to deliver 8,000 new dwellings by the end of 2026

The Land Development Agency has set out expansive plans to speed up the provision of new affordable homes on public lands, saying it will become the State’s biggest builder within five years.

Although the State body won’t complete its first home until 2023, chief executive John Coleman said it was on track to deliver 8,000 new dwellings by the end of 2026 as it deploys €3.5 billion to battle the housing crisis.

“We’re ready to go,” he said in an interview, adding that the LDA expects to spend most of the funding – €2.5 billion – by 2024-2025.

“As we’re ramping up that activity we’re getting to a run rate of around 2,000 homes per annum, again all of them that are social or mainly affordable.


“When you pitch that against the current largest builders that are out there in the market – they’re at around 1,000 or 1,200 homes per annum – that’s a pretty significant institutional response and intervention by the Government when you put it in that context. That’s what we’re targeting.”

Such figures were based on actual LDA projects so he had a “reasonable line of sight” on the outlook for building under the Government’s Housing for All plan. “It’s not pie in the sky.”

The increasing supply of social and affordable homes “should help moderate rents” in the private market, he added. “Every further home that’s put into the market it takes out additional pressure from the private system.”

Statutory body

The LDA was established on interim basis in 2018 to amass and develop State property for housing but it became a statutory body only in July when new laws took force. Since then the organisation has built up a staff of 55 while preparing and seeking planning consent for projects, Mr Coleman said.

“That preparatory phase has been well used to tee us up now to lever the LDA Act, as it is now, and to prime us for delivery.”

The LDA said site transfer commitments under the Government plan had potential for up to 15,000 new dwellings, describing it as the “largest ever transfer of State land” for housing.

Despite anxiety about a shortage of workers in some parts of the construction industry as building intensifies, Mr Coleman said the Government recognised the need to increase the supply of labour. “It is going to be an issue as with any ramp-up that’s agreed across the system. It’s not biting us right now but it could with the increased output.”

In a new initiative, the LDA said it would pursue agreements with property owners to advance building on lands which have permission for 80,000 dwellings – 40,000 in Dublin – but where construction has not begun. This plan – called Project Tosaigh – aims to deliver 5,000 new homes in the next five years.

“We could take on the land ourselves or, if you’re capable of delivering it, enter into a strategic partnership where the LDA will say that we will be there when the houses are built and take them off you and release them as affordable homes,” he said.

“So you de-risk the exit for the developer and then the developer can go ahead and get their financing on the basis of that de-risking.”

Development pipeline

Big LDA projects in the pipeline include the development of lands held by CIÉ, ESB and the Office of Public Works at Inchicore, in Dublin 8, which Mr Coleman said had potential for 10,000 new homes. “There’s other land there as well that could be brought to bear that could create a whole new suburb.”

The LDA plans 597 homes at Shanganagh in south Co Dublin, its first project, and 1,200 homes at the Central Mental Hospital site in Dundrum.

Its property in the Cork docklands is earmarked for a project with Cork City Council that could accommodate 25,000 people. The LDA is also advancing plans to develop a 54-hectare site at Colbert Station in Limerick.

The LDA has said it hopes to have as big an impact on housing as IDA Ireland on foreign direct investment by business. “This is an acceleration of what the LDA is doing and it’s an expansion,” Mr Coleman said of Housing for All.

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times