Developers getting ‘sweetheart deal’ from housing strategy, says Sinn Féin

Exemption allows some landowners to only deliver 10% social housing, says Eoin Ó Broin

Sinn Féin spokesperson on housing Eoin Ó Broin introduced a Bill to ensure all developments will have to provide 20 per cent social and affordable housing.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Sinn Féin spokesperson on housing Eoin Ó Broin introduced a Bill to ensure all developments will have to provide 20 per cent social and affordable housing. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The Government’s Housing for All strategy offers a “sweetheart deal” to large landowners and developers which will allow them provide just 10 per cent of social and affordable homes in private developments, Sinn Féin has claimed.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has pledged to restore the requirement that 20 per cent of all private housing schemes will be social and affordable housing for those on low wages and for local authority tenants.

But Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin claimed it was “shocking” that what the Minister has “actually done in his housing plan is give an exemption for any private landowner who bought land between 2015 and 2021 and who has yet to apply for planning permission”.

This will mean that only one in 10 units in their developments will have to comply with the requirement, he told the Dáil.

“That means if you are Cairn Homes, Hines or the Ronan Group, you are responsible for Poolbeg, Clonburris or wherever, and you have not yet put in planning permission, then you have a free bye-ball from now until 2026 so that if you put in your planning application, you will only have to deliver 10 per cent social housing.

“Consequently, not a single affordable home for working families to rent or buy will be delivered on any of these schemes. This is from a Government that says it represents a fundamental shift in housing policy towards the State.”

Failed policies

The Dublin Mid-West TD claimed that what the Minister’s “get-out clause or sweetheart deal” for large landowners and developers “really represents is a continuation of the same failed policies of Fine Gael” from the previous government.

Mr Ó Broin was speaking as he introduced “very simple” legislation in the Dáil to prevent this happening. He said the Planning and Development (Amendment) (20 per cent Provision of Social and Affordable Housing) Bill will mean that “any landowner making an application for a private housing residential development will have to provide 20 per cent social and affordable housing.”

The party will debate the Bill during Private Members’ business next week .

What is referred to as “Part V” of the Planning and Development Act deals with the proportion of social and affordable homes required on private housing developments.

It originally provided for 20 per cent but was reduced to 10 per cent as a result of Fine Gael changes, Mr Ó Broin said.

Mr Ó Broin said the changes “are not the actions of a Government serious about affordable housing”.

“Those are not the actions of a Government that represents working people.

“It is another sign of a Government that is kowtowing to the lobbying interests of large landowners, developers and institutional investors.”

The issue first emerged in the Business Post, which Mr Ó Broin said had noted that with the arrangement “we are throwing away 10,000 genuinely affordable homes between now and 2025”.