New State agency to free up land for ‘150,000 homes over 20 years’

Land Development Agency will designate 30 zones in Dublin and 10 in Cork for building

The agency “will demand” that almost a third of homes built on its sites must be affordable houses. Photograph: Alan Betson

The agency “will demand” that almost a third of homes built on its sites must be affordable houses. Photograph: Alan Betson


About 30 zones in Dublin city centre, and 10 in Cork city, are to be designated as special regeneration areas within which State lands will be released for housing, under a new agency to be announced on Thursday.

The areas to be identified by the Land Development Agency are a mix of previously announced schemes and new zones. The Government says the agency will pave the way for the construction of 150,000 homes over 20 years.

Among the areas in the capital to be designated “regeneration areas” is the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum, which is earmarked for the construction of 1,500 homes. In Cork, the regeneration of the docks would provide a further 15,000 homes, it is claimed.

It is also understood that areas to the west of Dublin city centre, along the Naas Road, will also be earmarked for development.

The new agency, which will have compulsory purchase powers, will build land banks by both releasing State lands for development and acquiring private land holdings nearby.

A memo brought to Cabinet on the issue yesterday said it would highlight “key privately held, underutilised lands with strategic development potential, such as those subject to the vacant site levy and the holdings of religious orders”.

Consistent flow

The agency, to be announced by Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy, will have €1.25 billion in funding and will seek to further assemble land banks into the future to ensure a consistent flow of house building.

Initially, some 30 zones in Dublin will be identified for “significant regeneration opportunities”. The Cabinet heard a “consolidated approach provides the opportunity to drive the regeneration of urban quarters in the city”.

Among the Dublin city centre zones are Grangegorman; Broadstone; O’Devaney Gardens; St Bricin’s Hospital; Infirmary Road; holdings by CIÉ, such as the rail works in Inchicore; St Teresa’s Gardens; Newmarket Square; Meath Hospital; Dublin Institute of Technology sites; Cathal Brugha Barracks; Harold’s Cross Greyhound Stadium and Portobello GAA pitch; the Irish Glass Bottle site; Bridgefoot Street; Arbour Hill prison; Collins Barracks; Boland’s Mills; the North Dock of Dublin Port; East Wall and St James’s Gate.

The sites in Cork city are the Tivoli Docks; Páirc Uí Chaoimh; the “old Ford site and centre park road”; a site formerly used by the National Oil Reserves Agency; an ESB site at the Cork marina; two holdings around Kent Station; Campfield and Marina Park.

Drive down cost

It is claimed the agency will seek to remove land speculation and drive down the cost of land, which it is hoped will lead to cheaper house prices and increased availability. It will “smooth the peaks and troughs of Ireland’s land and housing market”, the Cabinet was told.

The agency will, however, demand that almost a third of homes built on its sites must be affordable houses.

The price of an affordable home – or the income of those who would qualify to purchase such a property – is yet to be defined by the Government.

Sources pointed to other State housing schemes that roughly allowed a single person on up to €50,000 a year or a couple with a joint income of up to €75,000 a year to qualify for affordable housing.