Minister for Housing Simon Coveney announcing details of the €200m Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) in March
Readers may recall how, last June, it was reported that Minister for Housing Simon Coveney was to make a €200million ‘local infrastructure fund’ available to developers.
The purpose of the fund is to “relieve critical infrastructural blockages and enable the delivery of large-scale housing on key development sites”.
This fund is called the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund and in his Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan for Housing and Homeless document, Mr Coveney says:
“In return, clear commitments will be required around the accelerated pace and scale of delivery of homes in the right locations and with affordability built in, reflecting the scale of the State’s investment on behalf of its citizens.”
According to Mr Coveney, between August 2016 and October 2016, 21 local authorities submitted 74 proposals for funding.
Mr Coveney told the Dáil last month:
On 28 March 2017, I announced funding for 34 projects under LIHAF. The cost of these projects is €226.46 million, of which €169.65 million would be funded under LIHAF with local authorities funding the remaining €56.81 million.
“These public infrastructure projects will be key to the delivery of 23,000 housing units over the next four years, with a longer term projection of up to 70,000 units as the selected sites are fully built out.
In addition, last month, Mr Coveney said:
“There is a strong focus on affordability in the projects being funded under LIHAF. Local authorities were specifically asked to focus on affordability in considering what proposals to put forward and have received commitments from housing developers with regard to affordability.”
“It is expected that local authorities will work quickly to deliver public infrastructure which in turn will ensure that significant housing can be delivered in the period up to 2021. The substantial increase in housing supply should ensure that the house prices are competitive.”
Further to this.
Laoise Neylon, in the Dublin Inquirer, has been asking if the developers who have benefited from this funding have been building social and affordable housing units and, if so, how many?
Readers will note that all developers are required, by law, to build 10 per cent social housing in all developments where are more than nine units.
Ms Neylon writes:
“…there has been little detail about exactly how many affordable homes there will be on the sites that benefit from the fund, which are spread across 15 local authorities.
“One of the biggest housing sites to get LIHAF funding for infrastructure was Cherrywood, to the south of the city [Dublin], where 8,000 new homes are planned. The government gave €15.19 million for road upgrades and a bridge there.
“About 60 percent of the site is owned by the developer Hines, according to its spokesperson Robert Hanley.
“But Hanley was unable to say how many of the 8,000 units would be affordable in the development, or to directly answer a series of questions asking how many affordable units there would be and what cost they would be.
“Cherrywood will have 10 per cent social housing in line with current requirements,” said Hanley, by email on 10 May.
But social housing and affordable housing are not the same. Social housing is owned by local authorities, while affordable housing might be privately owned, but would be either purchased or rented at a lower cost.
The 10 per cent social housing doesn’t satisfy the requirement for affordable housing under LIHAF, according to a Department of Housing Spokesperson Eddie Kiernan.
“The provision of the required 10 per cent under Part V will be a factor in evidencing affordability but it must also extend to the rest of any relevant private housing on the site,” said Kiernan.
“On 15 May, in response to questions about how many affordable units there would be on the site, a spokesperson for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council said that “there is currently no affordable housing scheme in operation”.
“After a series of follow-up queries, a spokesperson for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council sent an email on 16 May, saying that the council is in negotiations with the developer to secure an element of affordable housing at Cherrywood.”
“It’s unclear why this agreement is not already in place.”