Housing minister seeks approval for Land Development Agency Bill

Housing minister seeks approval for Land Development Agency Bill

The Land Development Agency has been behind plans to build new homes at the St Kevin's site at Shanakiel in Cork. Picture: Land Development Agency

A memo on the Land Development Agency (LDA) will go to Cabinet for approval tomorrow.

Housing minister Darragh O'Brien is seeking Cabinet approval of the text of the Land Development Agency Bill 2020, which will establish the LDA on a statutory footing.

He is also seeking approval for the priority drafting of the General Scheme of the Affordable Housing Bil.

The LDA was established as a State agency under secondary legislation in September 2018 to build 150,000 new homes over the next 20 years, as part Project Ireland 2040.

Tomorrow's proposal would put the LDA on a statutory footing.

The Government says that the objectives of the LDA will be:

  • driving strategic land assembly to ensure the sustainable development of new and regenerated communities are well-served by essential services; 
  • providing homes for affordable purchase; 
  • cost rental and social housing; 
  • putting in place appropriate mechanisms;
  • collaborative structures between public and other bodies to develop public lands and other lands.

Critics say the LDA, as it is currently constituted, will not solve the affordable housing crisis as the Bill's definition of "affordable" is too broad, only specifying that "affordable" is less than the prevailing market price in the area.

There are also concerns that any LDA subsidiary companies used to build houses will not be subject to Freedom of Information requests or the lobbying register.

Sinn Féin's Eoin Ó Broin, a long time opponent of the LDA, says: "The use of private equity finance would also hike up the price of the affordable homes, pushing them beyond the reach of ordinary working people."

The Shared Equity Scheme has also been criticised due to the potential liability to the taxpayer in the event of a property crash.

The scheme would offer loans to help people get on the property ladder, who would then pay back the same percentage value of the home if the price goes up. 

However, if house prices crash, the Irish taxpayer will be liable for the money lost.

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From florist to fraudster, leaving a trail of destruction from North Cork, to Waterford, to Clare, to Wexford and through the midlands ... learn how mistress of re-invention, Catherine O'Brien, scammed her way around rural Ireland.

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