Law change to make 20% of units in new developments affordable or social homes

Cabinet expected to give go-ahead to Darragh O’Brien’s key proposal on Tuesday

The Cabinet is expected to give the go-ahead on Tuesday to a proposal to double the percentage of social and affordable houses in any development.

At present, all new developments must earmark 10 per cent of the units for social housing. Under proposals put forward by Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien, new residential developments must now also include a minimum of 10 per cent of affordable homes.

The change to the Planning and Development Act whereby 20 per cent of all homes in a development will be affordable or social, reverts the legislation back to the situation that prevailed when it was introduced by then minister Noel Dempsey two decades ago.

The change forms part of three pieces of key policy that Mr O’Brien is introducing in 2021 – the Affordable Housing Bill, the Land Development Agency Bill, and a major new housing policy, Housing for All, which may be published during July.


Statutory power

The first two Bills have been published and the Land Development Agency Bill is currently going through the Oireachtas – it will give statutory power to a new quango to develop significant housing developments on lands owned by the State – including the former Central Mental Hospital site in Dundrum, and Shanganagh in south Co Dublin.

A source said on Monday that the Government’s proposed Housing for All policy has yet to be finalised. It will form part of the National Development Plan and it is understood an overall budget for the policy has yet to be agreed.

“We are not ready yet and there is still a lot of work to do,” said a source. The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Housing met on Monday and meetings with other departments are ongoing.

In interviews since becoming Minister, Mr O’Brien has put a lot of emphasis on home ownership and the fact that the average age of people buying their first home has increased from 26 in 1991 to over 35 now.

He has also expressed concern that the average level of home ownership in Ireland has slipped below the EU average.

At the Fine Gael Ardfheis on Saturday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar committed his party to building at least 40,000 homes a year to bring the percentage of home ownership back over 70 per cent. That is some 10,000 a year higher than the current targets.

While Mr O’Brien has expressed similar sentiments, there has been no indication as yet if he will include similar targets in the new policy when it is published later this summer.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times