13th September 2018 | Uncategorised

Land Agency proposal cannot be just another giveaway to private developers.

by Antoin McDermott

Creation of land banks welcome, but this will only address the housing shortage properly if the state is ultimately directing the type of development.

Speaking following the announcement that a new ‘Land Development Agency’ is to be set up by the Government, which proposes to combine existing State land with large acquisitions of private land to encourage large-scale home building, Green Party Housing spokesperson Cllr Ossian Smyth today warned that this is not move away from failed market led solutions that Fine Gael have championed, unless publicly owned models like cost rental make up the vast majority of the new homes.

The State must be using the proposed land banks and deliver publicly-owned housing at scale to ensure we get the best outcomes for Irish people who need good homes – mixed use, mixed tenure developments with diverse communities are key to this. We have yet to see if any of the proposed land is earmarked for cost-rental development, and there’s no definition of what ‘affordable’ will ultimately mean.

“We’re in this mess because Fine Gael chose to try and stimulate private construction into delivering the scale of housing we need to solve the crisis. Their attempts to influence the market have failed – the new Land Agency can’t be just about providing yet another stimulus.

“NAMA, under Michael Noonan, disposed of as much of its land portfolio as possible – land that might have been excellent for development. Are we now proposing that the State buy back these lands at inflated costs?

Dublin Rathdown TD and Green Party Deputy Leader, Catherine Martin TD while welcoming that the Government have accepted the Green Party’s plan to make large sites like the Central Mental Hospital and Cahal Brugha Barracks available for housing, also voiced major concern over the type of development planned:

Though it’s positive that the Central Mental Hospital site in Dundrum is to be developed for housing, I am very concerned that only a portion of this site will be used for affordable homes.

“This is a perfect opportunity for the Government to use the entire site for cost-rental public housing. The Green Party called for this in the Dáil in March. This would be a secure and actually affordable alternative provided by the state, instead of relying on the private market, which is currently shutting so many families out with unaffordable prices. Cost-rental public housing – as in Vienna and other major cities around Europe and the world – provides a reliable investment for the state, while creating a dynamic, diverse community of people and families on a wide range of incomes.”