Public housing sites lie idle held up by 'dead hand' of the State insists Laois TD

Public spending watchdog says sites in Laois could be 'immediately developed'

Conor Ganly

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Conor Ganly

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

Sinn Féin

Sites available for social housing lie idle

Land ready for badly needed housing in Laois could be immediately developed but are being held up by a Government department and a State Hosing Agency, according to Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley.

The Laois Offaly TD who is also Chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has called for the Committee to scrutinise a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) on delays in social housing provision.

He says the report, which was released this week, highlights 29 sites owned by the State that are earmarked for social and affordable housing but which have absolutely no plans or proposals in place. This despite being found by the C&AG to be ready for immediate development.

Deputy Stanley said six of these sites are in Laois and are now owned by the Housing Agency. 

“Despite there being a housing crisis across the county which needs to be urgently addressed, we’ve been provided with evidence that 6 sites owned by the State are sitting there for years with no plans or development proposals in place for social housing.

"Laois County Council to their credit have been active in developing three sites that were included in this bundle but due to the slow pace the Department of Housing move at, there is no house building planned on the other six.

“What’s worse is that a review by the C&AG has found that all 29 sites in the State are ready for immediate development, all they need is a plan or development proposal. It is completely unacceptable.

“The C&AG also found that four of those 29 sites have the potential to provide up to 781 housing units.

“We have an entire generation of young people currently locked out of owning their own home and yet we have acres of land sitting ready for development without a proposal.

“We urgently need to provide affordable homes to purchase and cost-rental schemes for those who are just above the income threshold for council housing but are not earning enough to secure a mortgage. Several of these families are caught in this limbo situation and trapped in Private Rented Accommodation.

“As the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, I will be asking the Committee to address this matter as a priority. We need to know what has been happening with these sites, why no action has been taken and what timeline can be put in place to get things moving," said the TD.

The Housing Agency is a government body working with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) in the delivery of housing and housing services.