The State's new Land Development Agency (LDA) is planning to deliver homes at its first site at a discount of about one-third of the market rent, its chief executive has said.
Giving evidence to the Oireachtas housing committee, LDA chief executive John Coleman said a one-bed apartment at its scheme at Shanganagh in Dublin will be put up for rent of about €1,000 per month, a decrease of 34.9 per cent on market rents.
A two-bed will be rented for between €1,200 and €1,300 per month, a discount of 27.7 per cent to 33.3 per cent on market rents in the area, he said. Construction is expected to begin on the site in the second half of this year, with homes being finished off in 2023.
He said that a worker on a median education sector wage would usually pay just under 52 per cent of their wage on rent in the area, but this would drop to 33.6 per cent. “This would represent a meaningful difference to the lives of individuals renting in this scheme, freeing up their income to be put to other uses” such as saving for a deposit.
The committee was told that the LDA plans to deliver 600 homes in 2023 and “ramp up” from there. It has a near-term pipeline of about 3,000 units across nine sites, mostly in and around Dublin or the commuter belt.
Mr Coleman rejected criticism of the LDA’s engagement with Local Authorities, saying that he wanted local authorities to “use us to provide social and affordable housing”, and that the ambition of the agency was to “create an affordable homes sector, especially a cost rental sector that’s sustainable and capable of covering its cost”.
The committee is currently undertaking pre-legislative scrutiny of Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien's affordable housing Bill. Mr Coleman said the LDA and all its subsidiaries would be open to the Freedom of Information Act; a previously planned carve-out had caused controversy. He also said that his expectation is the LDA will be included on an expanded list of State bodies subject to the strictures of the lobbying legislation, which again had previously been criticised as it was not originally envisaged.
In addition to building homes, Mr Coleman told the committee it will work on three “strategic, transformational areas in our cities that will eventually deliver vibrant new city quarters including around 13,000 new homes between them”.
He said that while the LDA would focus on deploying its own capital budget in the first instance, he said that long-term “cheap, ethical” investment could be accommodated in time – arguing that these would not be “fly-by-night” operators.