Councils that hit housing targets to be ‘rewarded’

Local authorities who can achieve their targets as part of a €1.5bn social housing plan designed to reduce the housing waiting lists by a quarter will be rewarded, Environment Minister Alan Kelly has pledged. 

Councils that hit housing targets to be ‘rewarded’

Details of the social housing targets for local authorities to 2017 were unveiled in Limerick yesterday.

Over €1.5bn is to be spent on a combination of building, buying and leasing schemes by local authorities designed to accommodate 25% of those currently on housing waiting lists for social housing.

The combined funding for the Dublin local authorities comes to over €500m for the construction or refurbishment of 6,849 new units.

The Dublin councils have been allocated housing targets above what they proposed to the Department of Environment to ensure strong delivery where the housing need is greatest.

Among the other large local authorities receiving significant sums of money are Cork City and County Councils who have been allocated over €204m, and Kildare County Council which is to receive just over €86m.

The local authority allocated the lowest funding is Leitrim County Council with €4.4m, however this will reduce the housing waiting list by almost 50%.

Already approximately 300 separate building proposals by local authorities are currently being assessed by the department and will be announced in a number of phases starting this month. Construction is already underway for social housing in 33 sites nationwide.

Speaking during a visit to a social housing development site on Lord Edward St in Limerick City where 83 units are being constructed, Mr Kelly said there was no political bias in the allocation of funding, insisting it was based on need.

“We went out to all local authorities and we asked them to submit their plans. There is a key demand in Dublin and a large tranche of this funding is going towards Dublin,” he explained.

Mr Kelly said other areas with more demand include Laois County Council, which has a commuting distance to Dublin and where €31m has been allocated for the construction or refurbishment of 366 new units.

Limerick City and County Council is to receive over €57m to spend on 753 new units. This work will be separate to the ongoing regeneration programme, and is expected to reduce the housing waiting list by 27%.

“What we are doing is were are giving every local authority a chance to show what they can deliver and I fully intend on rewarding local authorities that can deliver quickly and on time and within budget,” said Mr Kelly.

“I think paritcualy those who have high demand areas, we should allow those to go even further and it will my intention to ensure that happens… I expect from my engagement with all the local authorities who have key demands that they will be the ones that will deliver the most,” he added.

Mr Kelly expects the programme to be completely finished by 2017 and said there is a strong possibility that more projects will be announced as local authorities are “ramped up” on planning resources and design.

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