Planning for State sites to accommodate 12,000 homes will not begin until 2025 or later

Concerns growing in Government over pace of delivery of housing on sites controlled by Land Development Authority

Sites to accommodate more than 12,000 homes to be built by the Land Development Agency (LDA) will not enter the planning process until the second half of this decade, an internal Government analysis shows.

The LDA has control of lands to accommodate between 21,000 and 26,000 homes, but concerns are growing in Government over the pace of delivery, with the housing crisis a renewed point of political vulnerability.

Ministers were told at Cabinet this week to redouble their efforts to find new packages of State land or properties suitable for housing and make them available to the LDA. The agency was transferred land to accommodate up to 15,000 homes, on top of an initial series of sites it is already progressing.

It estimates that it will be able to deliver about 8,000 homes this side of 2026 — but an internal document shows that many substantial sites are facing a host of issues to solve and are years off even entering the planning process.

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They include the largest single project on the LDA books, at Inchicore Railway Works in South Dublin, where it hopes 5,000 homes can be built. However, it is not expected to enter the planning process until the end of 2027 at the earliest, and is part of a wider redevelopment project dubbed City Edge.

The issues are not confined to the capital. Two major projects in Limerick, at Colbert Depot and Limerick Port, are not expected to enter planning until the end of 2028 and the middle of 2029, respectively.

Meanwhile, in Cork, a plan for 2,500 homes at the Cork City docklands won’t go into planning until the last quarter (Q4) of 2026, based on current projections. Land for another 1,500 homes at Kilbarry will begin the process in the third quarter of that year, with talks over the acquisition of the site from the IDA still ongoing.

Land for a total of 12,765 homes is not due to enter the planning process until 2025 or later, according to the documents given to Ministers this week. The document outlined how land sufficient for 4,535 homes is due to enter planning before 2025, with construction set to begin on two more projects totalling 861 units this year, and planning decisions expected on lands at Naas for another 219 units.

Timelines for entering planning for the following sites are given in the report:

Dublin Port North

Homes: 865

Timeline to enter planning: Q1 2025

Transfer to LDA is subject to agreement on the specific sites available for development

ESB lands at Cork South Docks

Homes: 800-1000

Timeline to enter planning: Q2 2026

Uncertainty about zoning some lands and masterplan for the wider south docks

Kilbarry, Cork

Homes: 1,500

Timeline to enter planning: Q3 2026

Talks on purchase underway with IDA, with wider land assembly under examination

Broadstone Garage, Dublin

Homes: 1,500

Timeline to enter planning: Q4 2026

No certainty on when planning will be secured as it is operationally used by Dublin bus and alternative site is needed

Cork City Docklands - Tivolo

Homes: 2,500

Timeline to enter planning: Q4 2026

Needs infrastructure improvements to improve access - a phased transfer is possible

Colbert Depot, Limerick

Homes: 400

Timeline to enter planning: Q4 2028

Agreement struck with National Transport Authorty to explore relocation of existing station infrastructure

Inchicore Works, Dublin

Homes: 5,000

Timeline to enter planning: Q4 2027-Q3 2029

Forms part of wider City Edge project being worked on  by local authorities. Transfer of lands will coincide with phases of that development.

Two sites were listed with no indication of capacity or timeline: Columb Barracks, Mullingar and Meath Hospital Site, Dublin

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien told The Irish Times that the LDA was making significant progress and had a “war chest” of about €3.5 billion to fund developments. He said he and the Taoiseach, who brought a memo on progress by the LDA to Cabinet jointly on Thursday, want state agencies and Government departments to “deal with this as a matter of priority” and needed people to “refocus and redouble their efforts” and to “get on with it” — including proceeding with the transfer of sites that are already set to move to the LDA.

However, the Opposition said the Government had failed to adequately equip the LDA with the necessary powers — specifically to enforce compulsory purchase orders.

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin accused Taoiseach Micheál Martin of “blaming others for the housing crisis” and “trying to deflect responsibility for his Government’s housing policy failures”.

“What the hell has Micheál Martin and his housing Minister Darragh O’Brien been doing for the last 24 months?” he said on Friday.

In a statement, the LDA said that while a number of its sites are in operational use, “we continue to have constructive discussions with a range of State and semi-State bodies to progress the transfer”. It said it has 12 live sites capable of delivering 6,000 homes and it intends to “unlock” lands for another 5,000 homes which is in private ownership through its Project Tosaigh initiative.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a political reporter with The Irish Times