Belfast Telegraph

1.25bn euro Land Development Agency aims to tackle housing shortage

The LDA promises to build 150,000 new homes over the next 20 years.

The Government has launched its new 1.25 billion euro Land Development Agency in a bid to tackle the housing shortage.

The LDA, which promises to build 150,000 new homes over the next 20 years, has a focus on managing state land to develop new homes and regenerate under-utilised sites.

The Government said strategic land banks from a mix of public and private land will bring essential long-term stability to the Irish housing market.

The LDA’s main focus will be on buying existing land owned by state departments and selling it to developers to ensure new homes are built quickly.

The body must deliver at least 40% of housing potential on the land, with 10% social and 30% affordable.

To ensure space and funding is available, the agency will be given sweeping compulsory purchase order powers and the right to use and sell state-owned land.

One of the sites understood to be targeted by the agency is the HSE-owned former St Kevin’s Hospital site in Cork City, which was the target of an arson attack in 2017.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the Government is playing catch-up.

“This is not about setting up an agency for the sake of it, this is solving a real problem,” he said.

“The Land Development Agency, with capital of 1.25 billion euro behind it, is a step-change in the Government’s involvement in the housing market.

“We know we are playing catch-up after our housing sector was destroyed.

“The Land Development Agency is a Government intervention that is 50 years overdue and which, in time, I believe, will be seen to be as significant as the decision to establish the ESB, Aer Lingus or the IDA.”

Minister for Housing Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy said the agency would help tackle the boom-and-bust cycle.

“The LDA will enable Government to address traditional volatility in land prices as a result of land speculation as well as delays in delivering housing.

“Establishing the LDA creates a powerful new driver of urban regeneration with the lands, skill sets and capital needed that will assure housing delivery, including the social, affordable and market housing so badly needed for our citizens.”

Critics of the new agency say the Government has badly executed what could have been a good idea.

Sinn Fein housing spokesman Eoin O Broin, who tabled a motion of no confidence in Mr Murphy on Tuesday, said this was not the best use of public land.

“The details of the proposed Land Development Agency emerging from Cabinet yesterday are very worrying.

“It seems the Government is going to use the new agency to bypass local authorities and to replicate the controversial Joint Venture/Land Initiative funding model.

“This model sees public land being sold to private developers and between 50% and 70% of the houses delivered on the site then sold at market prices.

“The Joint Venture/Land Initiative model is also incredibly slow, because each project is subject to a negotiation between the private developer and the agency before a bidder is approved.”

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the LDA is a mechanism to sell public land to private developers.

“The new proposal put forward by the Government is just another vehicle for the privatisation of public lands.

“Dressed up as a new plan to deliver homes, in effect it will only serve to line the pockets of the private developers and will mean council housing is relegated to the crumbs from the rich man’s table.”

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