New agency will buy private lands to develop for housing

Taoiseach says model will be based on Dublin Docklands Development Authority

“Our intention is to use that agency to take existing State land and acquire additional land for development,” the Taoiseach told the Dáil. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

“Our intention is to use that agency to take existing State land and acquire additional land for development,” the Taoiseach told the Dáil. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

 

A new Government agency will buy private land adjoining existing prime sites held by State and semi-State organisations in order to assemble land holdings that will then be developed for housing, the Taoiseach has said.

Leo Varadkar said the model previously used by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) “before it lost the run of itself” is to be adopted for the new National Regeneration and Development Agency (NRDA).

The DDDA was mired in controversy for paying over the odds for private land as it sought to develop the capital’s docks.

It had been previously thought the new agency would only assemble State sites, but Mr Varadkar said it will also acquire private land holdings.

Mr Varadkar said the exact approach of the new NRDA will be finalised in the weeks ahead, but said it will involve the State agency buying up land near sites that would be suitable for large-scale housing developments.

Dublin Bus depots in Donnybrook, Ringsend, Clontarf and Conyngham Road are among those consistently cited by Government figures as obvious examples of land that would be more suitable for housing than their current use.

Prime sites

Mr Varadkar told the Dáil the new NRDA will seek to buy up additional lands around such prime sites and then use a much larger land holding for development.

One of the most controversial deals undertaken by the DDDA was the purchase of the Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend for €412 million in November 2006. It was subsequently valued at €45 million by the Comptroller & Auditor General in 2010.

The prospect of allowing those who currently own prime sites, such as CIÉ, enter joint partnerships with builders or county councils to develop housing has been discussed within government circles

The Taoiseach, however, said this type of transaction will not be repeated with the NRDA. The new project was announced as part of the Government’s 10-year capital plan and accompanying national planning framework, called Project Ireland 2040.

“Our intention is to use that agency to take existing State land and acquire additional land for development,” the Taoiseach told the Dáil. “It would be following something similar to the model being used by the Grangegorman Development Agency and the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, before it lost the run of itself, in actually using State lands and adding private land to that to make it available for development.”

Responsible

The Grangegorman Development Agency is responsible for the area on the northside of Dublin city that is being turned into a new campus for the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).

It is understood that the exact approach to the NRDA is one of a number of elements to be announced at a special Cabinet meeting set for May 11th.

The prospect of allowing those who currently own prime sites, such as CIÉ, enter joint partnerships with builders or county councils to develop housing has been discussed within government circles.

Senior officials were given a briefing by Transport for London, who operate such an approach in the British capital, in recent weeks. The transport body owns thousands of acres in London and has sought to team up with developers to make money out of the land it owns.