Councils to transfer lands to Land Development Agency without vote from councillors

Bill will add affordability to market, housing minister says
Councils to transfer lands to Land Development Agency without vote from councillors

Councils will be able to transfer state lands to the Land Development Agency without a vote from councillors under a bill to put the agency on a statutory footing.

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. 

However, today's publication of the Land Development Agency Bill will give the Oireachtas more oversight of the agency.

The bill envisages that the LDA will focus initially on public lands in towns of over 10,000 people and "will periodically report to Government on public lands which could be suitable for housing or urban development". 

Under the bill, the Government can direct that such lands be transferred to the LDA.

The bill also provides that the LDA will have first refusal to purchase public lands being put up for sale.

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien said:

The legislation will add affordability to the housing market.

“In response to the pre-legislative scrutiny and by way of amending the initial LDA Bill General Scheme, we have ensured there is greater flexibility on the public lands affordability requirement, more clarity on the transfer of public lands to the LDA including a ‘first refusal’ clause along with appropriate CPO powers for the LDA.

“There is also a specific commitment to sustainable communities and best environmental practice, while the agency will be subject to FOI and enhanced Oireachtas committee accountability.

“Local Authorities can transfer lands to the LDA without requiring a council vote, accelerating the process, clearing blockages and driving on development."

However, Sinn Féin's Eoin Ó Broin said that the move to bypass councils is "dangerously undemocratic", further eroding local democracy.

This is the policy of a minister who is throwing his toys out of the pram.

"He is irritated by people showing him there is a better way to deliver genuinely affordable homes," Mr Ó Broin said.

“I don’t know why Fianna Fáil is so terrified of local democracy and their councillors getting to have a say on the sale of local authority land.

“The minister’s time would be better spent on ensuring local councils have adequate funding and staff to deliver social and affordable homes instead of looking to score cheap political points to the detriment of local communities.”

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