Significant progress reported on housing by Wicklow County Council

Significant progress on providing new housing in County Wicklow was reported at a recent meeting between the five Wicklow TDs, representatives of Wicklow County Council and the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.

Wicklow County Council currently has 13 schemes at various stages of planning which will potentially yield 162 housing units.  Funding of circa €36m has been sanctioned by the Department for these schemes.

The meeting in Leinster House followed a request from the members of Wicklow County Council for a meeting with the five Wicklow TDs to discuss the Council’s Housing Capital Programme as well as other ancillary matters.

The meeting with the five TDs took place in Leinster House on Wednesday last, 19th October 2016.

Deputy Damien English, Minister of State for Housing, was also in attendance along with senior Department officials.

The Council was represented by Cllr Pat Fitzgerald, Cathaoirleach, Wicklow County Council;  Cllr John Snell, Cathaoirleach, Housing and Corporate Estate SPC;  and  Mr Bryan Doyle, Chief Executive,  along with senior officials from the Housing and  Corporate Estate Department.

The meeting was chaired by Minister Simon Harris.

The Government’s policy document on housing entitled “Rebuilding Ireland ..Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness” was the subject of a broad discussion at the meeting.

Amongst other matters discussed were:

 

  • Progress on Wicklow County Council’s Social Housing Schemes (traditional build)
  • Other schemes/initiatives that will provide social housing units (in Partnership)
  • Other issues affecting housing provision
  • Detailed submissions for the 2016-2018 period.
  • Presentation given to Wicklow County Council 26th of September
  • The approval stages for Housing
  • Update on schemes agreed July 2015
  • Reference to advertisement dated 7th October 2016 seeking Expression of Interest from Approved Housing Bodies to develop on local authority land
  • Recently adopted Part V Policy and its potential to supply housing units
  • Recently adopted Acquisition of Housing Units Policy and its potential to supply housing units – 59 properties have been acquired by the Council at a cost of €12.6m since 2015.

Wicklow County Council has currently 13 schemes at various stages of planning which will potentially yield 162 units.  Funding of circa €36m has been sanctioned by the Department for these schemes.  These were discussed at length with particular reference to the stages, planning process and progress.

Rapid Build was also discussed and the Council is considering this method of delivery for future schemes.

The recent advertisement of 5 of the above schemes to Part 8 Planning Consultation stage was welcomed by all as a significant step.

The Department indicated they were satisfied with progress and pointed out that whereas the approval process is acknowledged to be labour intensive, there is a significant investment by the State in Social Housing and consequently necessary controls on this level of expenditure must be strictly adhered to.

Based on current target dates for all stages and no anticipated delay, it is expected that some construction activity will commence in 2017.

Other issues discussed included:

 

  • Public Private Partnership on the Convent Land, Wicklow Town
  • Approved Housing Bodies – development in Ballybeg, Rathnew
  • Approved Housing Bodies – advertisement of expression of interest to develop land in the ownership of the local authority where the local authority/Department may not be in a position to develop in the short-term
  • Part V negotiations with developers
  • Capital Assistance Scheme
  • Homelessness Prevention and Strategy
  • The roll out of the Housing Assistance Payment in Wicklow
  • The recent Social Housing Needs Assessment
  • Housing Acquisitions
  • Other issues including vacant houses in the ownership of Financial Institutions and the potential conversion to social housing

The phased development, closely adhering to the five pillars of Rebuilding Ireland, was positively welcomed and it was agreed to continue to develop the productive relationship exhibited by the meeting.

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