Cork City Council is reviewing its process for securing social houses from private developers after a government audit highlighted "weaknesses" in its systems for doing so.
Under Part V planning regulations, private developers are required to deliver a percentage of the homes in their new housing estates for social housing but, in an audit of their work, the Department of Housing criticised Cork City Council's "recording and follow up of Part V agreements".
The criticism was based on previous issues highlighted by the department.
In 2015, 2016 and 2017, the Council did not secure a single Part V unit, which prompted the department to raise concerns in its audit for 2018, published by the Department in recent weeks, but the Council says it has now overhauled its system.
In 2018, Cork City Council secured a total of three Part V units, before securing a combined 104 in 2019 and 2020.
The sizeable increase in the last 18 months came in the context of the extension of the boundary of Cork city to include areas like Glanmire, Ballincollig and Douglas, which are largely residential and, therefore, more likely to have large housing developments which can be handed over, resulting in the spike in numbers.
“Cork City Council is reviewing its management process for the implementation of the Part V planning regulations. The current regulations under the Planning and Development Acts require planning applications to include Part V proposals for the delivery of a percentage of homes for social housing purposes, which is to be agreed in principle with the housing authority as to how to discharge the Part V planning obligations,” a spokesperson for Cork City Council said.
“Improvements in the implementation of and enhancing the Part V process has been underway in the City Council for various reasons, mainly due to increasing activity in housing delivery because improved economic activity in the past 5 years, the Rebuilding Ireland Programme for Government initiative and the expansion of the City Council jurisdiction into metropolitan areas such as Ballincollig, Douglas and Glanmire, suburbs which are a fertile base for housing delivery,” they added.
A review of the administration of the Part V process is ongoing, and is expected to be completed in late 2020, the spokesperson confirmed. The review will focus primarily on Part V agreements and how these might be improved and updated.
“This review does not affect the active management of current Part V files, nor the obligation on a developer to ensure compliance certification for Part V agreements prior to completion of a development,” they added.
According to Cork City Council, subdued private residential construction since the financial crash has limited the delivery of Part V units in the years up to 2018 in Cork city.