Government’s radical land sale plans potentially contentious

Constitutionality likely to be tested given potentially large sums at stake for landowners

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien. Photograph: Alan Betson

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien. Photograph: Alan Betson

To borrow from the late Seamus Mallon, Government plans to compel landowners to pay up to half the value of rezoned land to the State look rather like the Kenny report for slow learners.

Mr Justice John Kenny’s report on the price of building land, published in 1973, contained measures to secure community benefit from the uplift in development land value, including giving local authorities the right to acquire undeveloped lands at “existing use value” plus 25 per cent. But the report went nowhere, overtaken by events and hindered by anxiety that the intrusion on constitutional property rights would not pass legal muster.

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