New land agency tasked to end boom-and-bust cycle

A new €1.2bn land agency using State-owned sites for house construction will help end the boom-and-bust cycle in housing, the Government has pledged.

New affordable houses could be sold for €320,000 in Dublin and €250,000 outside the capital, but it will be 2020 before the first are available.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar launched the Land Development Agency, comparing its establishment to the founding of the ESB or IDA. The agency will unlock sites, such as hospital lands, barracks, or depots for development with private builders.

However, joint ventures with private builders on lands must ensure 40% of new houses are affordable and social. The agency will have the power to compulsory purchase private lands.

Initially, the agency will deliver 3,000 houses on eight sites. The Government says it could deliver 150,000 houses in the next 20 years.

We want to harness publicly owned assets to deliver more affordable housing, better and more stable ready-to-go land ready for development as well as jobs,” said Mr Varadkar.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said the agency would help break a “damaging cycle”.

“We are going to break the boom-and-bust cycle of housing that has so badly affected two generations of our people in recent history,” he said.

While the construction industry welcomed the agency as a “gamechanger”, Opposition TDs questioned the use of State sites for private development.

Solidarity TD Richard Boyd Barrett said it would “line the pockets of developers”.

Labour wants lands kept in public ownership.

“The housing crisis should not be a profit-making exercise for developers,” said Jan O’Sullivan.

The Simon Community asked if almost two thirds of new builds would be private.

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