€226,000 for North Meath Projects

Uncategorized

DE_Cllr Sarah ReillyCommunity groups and schools in Meath to benefit from CLÁR funding to enhance safety measures

 

€226,000 for North Meath Projects

Fine Gael TD for Meath West has welcomed the announcement of funding for community groups and schools in Meath are to benefit from new Government funding through the CLÁR programme.

 

Minister English said: “The latest round of funding under the Clár Programme is being allocated for safety measures in schools and community groups. €226,000 has been allocated to schools and community groups in North Meath who successfully applied for funding in this round.

 

‘The funding under this latest round of the Clár Programme will allow for the installation of safety measures such as pedestrian crossings, flashing lights and speed indicators in villages and adjacent to schools and community facilities.  These measures will help to keep not only our children, but all those who live in CLÁR areas, safe which is very welcome.

 

Cllr Sarah Reilly congratulated the local community groups in North Meath and stated ‘It is a testament to the hard work of the local communities in Kilskyre, Ballinacree, Carnaross, Tierworker, Killallon, Dromone and Ballinlough in attaining this vital strand of funding by Government for improving our local rural communities in North Meath.  I congratulate you and commend you for your commitment to furthering and improving our local communities.

 

“Our colleague Michael Ring T.D., Minister for Rural and Community Development, has allocated €4.8 million to 170 projects in rural areas across the country. This builds on the previous funding allocations under Clár; since 2016, the Programme has provided funding to over 1,000 projects in rural areas across the country.

 

Minister English added that “The Programme forms a significant part of Fine Gael’s Action Plan for Rural Development which was launched in January 2017.

 

“The Clár programme, which had been closed for new applications by Fianna Fáil in 2009, is hugely important to rural communities. Thanks to our recovering economy, not only have we been able to reopen the Clár Programme, but we are continuing to build on it. I am delighted to hear Minister Ring confirm today that two further rounds of Clár Funding are due this year, allocating funds for Play Areas and First Response Supports. Details of these allocations will be announced shortly.

 

“Through the Clár Programme and other supports under the Action Plan of Rural Development, such as the Rural Recreation programme and the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, Fine Gael will continue working hard to support the economic and social development of communities in rural Ireland.”

 

ENDS

OFFICIAL SCHOOL NAME Name of Community Address Project Description CLÁR funding Allocated
         
Kilskyre National School   Kilskyer installation of digital speed signage €9,000.00
  Ballinacree Community Association Ballinacree Village extenstion of footpath €30,000.00
  St. Kieran’s Well & Castlekieran Graveyard Committee Castlekieran, Carncross, Kells refurbish & repair access points to well €12,240.00
St. Anne’s National School – Maio School   Maio, Tierworker, Kells resurfacing of carparking facilities at school €30,000.00
  Killallon Killallon Village upgrading of footpath €30,000.00
Scoil Mhuire Moylagh – Moylagh School   Mullagh, Dromore, Oldcastle resurfacing of carparking facilities at school €30,000.00
  Dromone & District Development Association Dromone Village, Oldcastle construct new footpath €30,000.00
  Ballinlough GFC Ballinlough resurfacing of carparking facilities at sports facility €30,000.00
  Ballinlough Pride of Place Ballinlough extenstion of footpath €16,200.00
  Killallon Graveyard Community Group Killallon Village provision of public lighting €9,000.00
        €226,440.00

Short-term Lettings Bill 2018 – Speech on behalf of Government in Seanad Éireann

Uncategorized

Private Members’ Bill

Seanad Éireann

Short-term Lettings Bill 2018

Wednesday 20th June 2018

Check Against Delivery

Introduction

Firstly, I wish to thank Senator Humphries for bringing forward this Bill and providing us with another opportunity to discuss short-term lettings which is a priority for this Government.

 

Policy

Can I set out from the start that, “Home sharing” that is to say, people providing overnight and short-term accommodation in their own homes – is a good thing. It can be an important source of income, helping “home sharers” to meet the cost of mortgages, rents and other household expenses and hence support tenure security.  It also supports tourism and associated economic activity and even social and cultural exchange.

This does not reduce the number of residential units available in the economy.

Importantly, planning regulations have traditionally recognised that home sharing and overnight guest accommodation is permissible in certain circumstances in houses, but not apartments, without the need to obtain planning permission.

However, the Government is concerned about the growing availability and use of online short-term letting platforms, and the potential commercial opportunities they provide, may lead landlords, who normally provide residential rental accommodation, to move into short term letting to tourist and business traveller customers because of the higher returns available from this activity.

Similarly people may well purchase or rent properties specifically for short term letting as an investment option, taking them out of residential market.

Short term letting under either of these scenarios, will lead to a direct loss of units in the rental sector and by extension, the broader housing system.  This means less longer-term and secure accommodation being available to the increasing numbers of families and people who need to access it.

Of course there is the potential for positive impacts as well, such as increased economic activity and tourism revenue.  With the housing system  under severe pressure the positive impacts are outweighed by the negative ones.

The social and economic impacts faced by families experiencing difficulties in accessing accommodation are significant and will not be compensated by the broader economic benefits a shift of residential units into short term letting could bring.

Equally, increased tourism revenues or footfall in urban restaurants, shops and local businesses will do nothing to compensate the frontline worker who has to move from the city to the periphery of the commuter belt with all the associated burden that brings with increased travel time and costs and dislocation in terms of schools and social networks.

At the same time we do not want to deny people the opportunity that short term letting – in the traditional B&B manner or via online platforms provide – that allow people to let out rooms in their homes as a means of earning some extra income.  This type of activity could actually help the frontline worker pay their rent or mortgage – and keep them in their home.  It is important to emphasise that we do not want to close that down.

That said, I understand and appreciate the motivation and bona fides behind this Private Members Bill.

To specifically address your proposals, I will take the opportunity to set out the Government’s position on each proposal.

Section 2 proposes to introduce a definition of short term lettings.

At present, there is no legal definition of short-term letting.  The Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011 uses a figure of 8 consecutive weeks but this does not take into consideration the cumulative effect across an entire season or year.

To accept the definition in the Bill would pre-empt the findings of the working group established under the Strategy for the Rental Sector not to mention any possible issues that may arise during discussions with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel.

Section 3 states that, under the planning code, where a dwelling is used for short-term lettings for more than an aggregate of 6 weeks per year then its use shall be classed as commercial rather than residential.

Under the planning code, all development, including a material change of use, requires planning permission unless exempted under the Act or the associated Regulations.  For example, there is an exemption which facilitates the use of a house for overnight guest accommodation in certain circumstances, which is traditionally relied on in the context of the provision of B&B-type accommodation.

The Bill proposes that, for the purposes of the planning code, short-term letting for periods exceeding 6 weeks in a year is a commercial use not a residential one.  It is understood the intention of this provision is to require property owners to obtain planning permission for a material change of use.

However, this is already generally the case under current planning requirements, and was addressed in a circular to planning authorities in October 2017, which sets out the existing planning requirements in relation to the short-term letting of houses and apartments.

Section 4 proposes removing the exemption under Section 3(1)(l) of the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011 that disapplies the Act to short-term lettings.

The 2011 Act provided for, inter alia, the establishment of the Property Services Regulatory Authority – which regulates property service providers, i.e. estate agents, letting agents and property management agents.

The Act provides that the Act does not apply to –

“(l) a property service consisting solely of a short-term letting to a person where such letting—

(i) does not exceed or is unlikely to exceed 8 consecutive weeks, and

(ii) is for bona fide tourism or other leisure purposes,”

This exemption provision was intended to allow owners of holiday houses, cottages, etc. to let them directly to tourists without requiring them to use estate or letting agents with all the costs and inconvenience that involves.

The 2011 Act was designed to regulate the genuine property services sector, not the tourism sector and was quite deliberate that genuine tourism lets were incorporated in the list of exemptions provided for.

Amending the Property Services (Regulation) Act, as proposed in this Private Members’ Bill, would significantly change the manner in which the 2011 Act operates, and would potentially place a very significant additional burden on the Property Services Regulatory Authority (which would require significant resourcing) and may very well lead to unforeseen consequences.

The Government also has genuine concerns for small operators in the short-term tourist letting sector, many of whom will almost certainly fail to satisfy qualification and other licensing requirements, if this exemption is removed. This would then mean that such small operators (e.g. owners of tourist cottages, etc.) could not legally directly let their properties on a short-term basis and would instead, have to engage a licensed property service provider to conduct such lettings, with the consequent incurring of expenses and administrative complications.

Section 5 of the Bill proposes to place the obligation on short-term letting service providers to provide specified information to planning authorities.  It also proposes to require planning authorities to request, collect and collate such data and share this information with the Revenue Commissioners on request.

The purpose of the planning system aims to facilitate and support proper planning and sustainable development in a balanced manner, ensuring that the right development takes place in the right locations at the right time.  However, it is not the function of the planning code, nor is it the appropriate vehicle, to provide a wider regulatory framework for the short-term tourism-related letting sector or related tax requirements.

 

Government Efforts

The Strategy for the Rental Sector, recognised the potential issue of significant numbers of properties being withdrawn from the long term rental market for use as short term tourism-related lettings.

The negative impact this would have for the supply and availability of residential rental accommodation and that the growing use of online platforms, such as AirBnB, could, if not adequately regulated, facilitate and encourage this trend.

That is why we established a Working Group, made up of representatives from my Department, the Departments of Finance and of Business, Enterprise & Innovation, An Bord Pleanála, Fáilte Ireland, the Residential Tenancies Board, and Dublin City Council, to develop proposals for the appropriate regulation for management of short term tourism related lettings taking into account the Government’s overall housing and rental policy objectives.

The working group has submitted its report to the Department and Minister Murphy is currently considering same.

 

Proposed Regulation

The primary goals of the regulatory proposals are to:

  • Reduce the market impacts of short-term rentals on the long-term residential rental market;
  • Facilitate the use by resident householders of unused capacity in their homes for short term letting and the associated economic benefits for them and the local economy;
  • Ensure the quality of accommodation services provided, consumer protection and safety; and,
  • Limit and mitigate the costs associated with high volumes of short-term lettings borne by residential communities.

 

What is currently envisaged is a licensing system for both intermediaries – such as websites and management companies – and persons renting out both single rooms and entire properties as a short term lets.

The precise details regarding inspection, monitoring, enforcement limit setting, fees as well as consideration of local factors have still to be finalised.

However, it is clear that different approaches will be needed for those wishing to let properties on an ongoing commercial basis and those wishing to let a room in their home or to let their home while away for a short period, perhaps on holiday.

The regulatory approach also intends to recognise the huge difference across different areas of the country.  In some places increases in short term letting poses a risk to the rental stock, while in others it could provide an important opportunity for landlords to make profitable use of properties that they have difficulty letting.

 

Conclusion

To conclude, I would like to thank Senator Humphries for introducing this Bill and the sentiment which it contains, which is and will continue to be extremely helpful as we move forward with the design and establishment of an appropriate regulatory framework to both protect our housing and rental supply and also take advantage of the benefits that this new and growing economy provides.

 

ENDS

Seanad Statements on Marine Spatial Planning – 12 June 2018 – Opening Statement by Minister Damien English

Marine

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

 

Cathaoirleach,

I am very pleased to be here today to provide an update on Marine Spatial Planning or MSP on behalf of the Government and my Department, following on from Senator O’Sullivan’s Motion last month on marine environment matters.

All contributors to that debate appeared to agree that as an Island nation, our marine environment is a national asset that gives us many commercial and non-commercial benefits in terms, for example, of biodiversity, seafood, tourism, recreation, renewable energy, cultural heritage, and shipping. People are passionate about our seas and the future sustainable use, enjoyment and development of our marine area affects many people.

Managing our ocean wealth requires an overarching national marine ‘spatial’ plan to a structure to help realise the full benefit of our ocean wealth and assist with managing our resources effectively and sustainably.

The development of an overarching national MSP was identified as a Government policy objective in Ireland’s Integrated Marine Plan, Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth (HOOW). We identified that the organisation, regulation and protection of marine-based activity in Irish waters was being carried out on a sectoral and demand-driven basis, without a strategic framework in which sectoral policy objectives could be envisioned, planned and delivered over the long term.

Marine Spatial Planning is also underpinned by EU legislation. The 2014 MSP Directive established an EU-wide framework for MSP. The directive established a framework for MSP, and defined it as “a process by which the relevant Member State’s authorities analyse and organise human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic and social objectives”. The Directive details the main goals and minimum requirements for Member States as:

  • Balanced and sustainable territorial development of marine waters and coastal zones; optimised development of maritime activities and business climate;
  • Better adaptation to risks; and resource-efficient and integrated coastal and maritime development.
  • Lower transaction costs for maritime businesses and improved national competitiveness; improved certainty and predictability for private investments;
  • Improved certainty in obtaining financing for investments in the maritime area; improved use of sea space and the best possible coexistence of uses in coastal zones and marine waters;
  • Improved attractiveness of coastal regions as places to live and invest; reduced co-ordination costs for public authorities;
  • Greater development of innovation and research; and enhanced and integrated data and information.

We transposed the Directive through the European Union (Framework for Maritime Spatial Planning) Regulations 2016, signed into law on 29th June 2016. The regulations identify the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government as the competent authority for MSP, reflecting my Department’s track record and expertise in relation to forward planning generally.

Senators will be aware from our earlier discussions that I am proposing amendments to the Planning and Development Bill 2016 to replace the existing regulations with a new primary legislative basis for MSP. I want to give MSP greater prominence, and introduce new arrangements for the plan making process including governance, public participation, review and Oireachtas involvement, to ensure that the processes for making Ireland’s two long term forward spatial plans, one marine, the other terrestrial, are consistent and fully aligned

Working within the existing framework, Minister Murphy and I launched Towards a Marine Spatial Plan for Ireland, a roadmap for the development of Ireland’s first marine spatial plan in December 2017.

In the roadmap document we have clearly set out the principles of engagement for this process. We believe that marine spatial plans should be strategic, concise and informed by effective public and stakeholder participation to ensure buy-in with regard to implementation. Therefore, a core objective of the MSP process will be to ensure that, as well as the wider public, all relevant stakeholders are consulted and encouraged to contribute to the process of plan preparation.

The importance of involving all stakeholders in the marine planning and marine sectoral issues was raised repeatedly during our discussion last month and I am deeply committed to it. The participation processes for MSP are being designed, tailored and structured to ensure meaningful, informed and timely engagement with the plan-making process.

We are committed to:

  • Involving people early on in the decision-making process and in developing specific policy within the framework provided by HOOW;
  • Engaging with interested people and organisations at the appropriate time using tailored and effective engagement methods, allowing sufficient time for meaningful consultation;
  • Being adaptable, recognising that some consultation methods work better for some people and some issues and that a one size fits all approach will not work;
  • Respecting the diversity of people and their lifestyles and giving people a fair chance to have their voice heard regardless of gender, age, race, abilities, sexual orientation, circumstances or wherever they live;
  • Being clear in the purpose of any engagement and how the public may contribute and letting people know how their views have been taken into account within agreed timescales;
  • Making documents publicly available on the Department’s website;
  • Communicating clearly with people, using plain English and avoiding jargon.

In line with these objectives a three-pronged engagement strategy is now underway and I want to spend some time outlining those.

Firstly, we have established an Interdepartmental Group to lead and oversee the development of the MSP. The group is chaired by my Department and is made up of senior representatives from the Marine Institute, local government and Government Departments whose policies and functions are relevant to the plan.

Secondly I have been tasked with chairing an Advisory Group to facilitate participation in the MSP process by all relevant stakeholders from the economic, environmental and social pillars. The purpose of the Advisory Group is to harness the potential and capacity of a broad range of sectors including representation from the public sector, business, environmental, social and knowledge-based sectors to guide strategic thinking and decision-making in the preparation of marine spatial plans. We meet for the second time tomorrow and the outputs of the group will also inform the work of the Interdepartmental MSP Group and provide updates, reports or recommendations as required.

The third strand is stakeholder engagement – this is a parallel process with a strong focus on awareness-raising among coastal communities, smaller unaligned stakeholders, individual members of larger representative bodies.

This strand is critically important in my view.

Staff from the MSP team in my Department have been engaged in a series of public engagements throughout the country over the past few months and this will continue. These have ranged from conference presentations and meetings with sectoral groups such as the Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums – whose members are representative of the ‘inshore sector’ fishermen using boats of less than 12m in overall length – to smaller public meetings in coastal communities to help the public understand how they can feed into the plan by getting involved in the consultation processes. The latter have been advertised via local and regional groups, local newspapers, by direct contact with stakeholder groups and using social media, in particular Twitter. They are, by design, informal, low key and are taking place at the earliest possible stage before any ink has been committed to paper in a draft plan. They are intended purely to help explain the concept and processes around MSP and to give people time and space to think about how they want to shape the plan during the formal consultation and participation phases. Larger, more regionally focused events will take place in the Autumn of this year and into early 2018.

The first opportunity for formal input will arise in the autumn following the publication of our Baseline Report. This document will outline the current situation in our seas – the as-is situation in terms of capturing the nature and locations of existing activities, developments and marine uses. The Baseline Report will also pose a series of questions to stakeholders to help frame their submissions.

It will be published in September 2018 kick-starting a two-month consultation period. Following this the draft MSP (including Environmental Assessments) is intended to be completed by Q2 of 2019 and will be followed by a three-month public consultation.

In terms of the formal consultation on the draft marine plan, once the consultation period has closed, the responses will be analysed and a summary report will be produced detailing any comments made and published on our website. This report will also set out any changes made to the plans, any changes that weren’t made and the reasons why. Everyone who submitted a response will be notified when it is published. The final plan will be in place by mid-2020, just 30 months on from the launch of our Roadmap document.

Once the plan is in place, it will be a key strategic spatial framework encompassing all plans and sectoral policies for the marine area.

It will provide a coherent framework in which those sectoral policies and objectives can be realised.

It will be the key decision making tool for regulatory authorities and policy makers into the future in a number of ways including, decisions on individual consent applications which will have to be in line with the provisions of the plan in the same way that terrestrial plans form part of the decision making tool-kit in the on-land planning process.

Finally, Cathaoirleach, Ireland’s National Marine Planning Framework will, just as the National Planning Framework does for land-based sectors, close the loop by providing a key input to the development of future sectoral marine policies.

ENDS

 

Urban Regeneration and Development Fund for Trim and Navan

Housing and Urban Renewal, Meath, Navan, Trim

English encourages local communities in Trim and Navan to work closely with Meath County Council on applications for Urban Regeneration and Development Fund 

Some €4 billion will be made available to cities and towns across Ireland through the Project Ireland 2040 Funds, including the towns of Trim and Navan in Meath West, local Fine Gael T.D. and Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal Damien English T.D. has said.

As part of Project Ireland 2040, the Government is setting up four new funds to deliver better cities, better rural towns and communities, fund new technology and look at how we can combat climate change and effectively respond to the huge challenge it poses.

The breakdown is: €2bn for urban regeneration, €1bn for the Rural Development Fund, €500m climate action fund and €500m disruptive technologies fund

Minister English said: “This funding is great news for Trim and Navan, and for the wider county too. The new €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development Fund will also encourage greater stakeholder contributions than we’ve had in the past.

“This is part of a longer term plan which delivers the resources to make our new planning framework come alive. Our hope is that this new funding model will move beyond politics and hopefully see more community driven initiatives.

“This fund will act as a driver of development and it is essential that Meath County Council and our community groups apply for all the funding available to them.

“The Fund will encourage collaborative approaches between Departments, agencies, Local Authorities and other public bodies, and the private sector, where appropriate, to pool their assets and work with communities to transform our rural towns and villages and their outlying areas.

“Previously we’ve allocated to Government Departments and to Local Authorities on the basis of what they got in the past – that needs to change.

“Proposals will be expected to be consistent with the National Planning Framework objectives and provide a strategic integrated approach which is consistent with regional and local plans for the area.

“To ensure Ireland benefits we have to completely change how we allocate funding to universities and the private sector on a competitive basis.

“We’re asking them to apply for funding that the State will look at matching,” the Meath West Fine Gael T.D. and Minister said.

ENDS

EDITORS NOTE:

€2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development Fund:

The primary purpose of the €2 billion Fund is to secure more compact, sustainable growth in Ireland’s five cities and other large urban centres (the 59 eligible cities and towns are listed in the annex).  This funding, addition to normal sectoral funding streams, is designed to leverage a greater proportion of residential and commercial development, supported by infrastructure, services and amenities, within the existing built-up areas of our larger urban settlements.

There is a total of €500m Exchequer funding to the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund over the years 2019 to 2022, with €100 million of expenditure available in 2019. An initial call for proposals is intended to be made before the end of June 2018, allowing a 14 week period for development of applications with a targeted closing date at end September 2018.  Proposals will be invited to be submitted under one of two categories:

  1. A)     ‘Ready-to-go’ proposals that can be initiated in 2019.  Projects in this category will have the necessary consents (e.g. planning) in place, be at an advanced stage of design and be procurement-ready; or
  2. B)     Proposals that require further development and that subject to approval in principle, may be initiated in 2019 or in subsequent years. It will be necessary to detail, as part of the bid process, the key steps required for further project development to enable project initiation.

The initial 2018 call will invite bids that may be made for funding a large project on a multi-annual basis, in respect of which project expenditure can commence in 2019. There will be further calls periodically, with funding/allocations to be increased incrementally as the programme becomes established.

Bid proposals must be on a co-funded basis and must therefore demonstrate significant stakeholder contribution in the form of a combination of wider exchequer and/or state-sector capital expenditure, local authority investment and/or land, or other asset contributions.  The co-funding contribution must comprise not less than 25% of the bid value.

There will also be a requirement for 100% (euro-for-euro) leveraging of committed wider private sector investment in the delivery of homes, community and/or commercial floorspace in urban areas, arising from investment to be made as a result of the Urban Fund.

There is a wide range of projects that will be eligible for this regeneration and development funding, including the acquisition, enabling and/or development of areas, sites and buildings, relocation of uses, public amenity works, community facilities, transport, services infrastructure and/or transition to a low carbon and climate resilient society, in an urban context.

Types of areas eligible for funding may include those that include a concentration of low-intensity uses, such as storage depots or warehousing, underutilised ‘backlands’ behind streets and buildings, or institutional sites that are suitable for re-development, as part of an overall regeneration proposal.

Eligible Cities and Towns:

A list of the eligible cities and towns is included below. This may be reviewed post-2021 following the next Census.

Cities

1          Dublin City and Metropolitan Area

2          Cork City and Metropolitan Area

3          Limerick City and Metropolitan Area

4          Galway City and Metropolitan Area

5          Waterford City and Metropolitan Area

 

Regional/Cross-border drivers

1          Drogheda

2          Dundalk

3          Athlone

4          Letterkenny

5          Sligo

 

Towns >10,000 population 2016

1          Swords

2          Bray

3          Navan

4          Kilkenny

5          Ennis

6          Carlow

7          Tralee

8          Newbridge

9          Portlaoise

10         Balbriggan

11         Naas

12         Mullingar

13         Celbridge

14         Wexford

15         Greystones

16         Clonmel

17         Malahide

18         Carrigaline

19         Leixlip

20         Tullamore

21         Maynooth

22         Killarney

23         Arklow

24         Cobh

25         Ashbourne

26         Midleton

27         Mallow

28         Castlebar

29         Laytown-Bettystown-Mornington

30         Enniscorthy

31         Cavan

32         Wicklow

33         Tramore

34         Ballina

35         Skerries

36         Longford

 

Towns <10,000 population, >2,500 jobs 2016

(eligible for either urban or rural funds)

 

1          Gorey

2          Shannon

3          Nenagh

4          Westport

5          Roscommon

6          Monaghan

7          Tuam

8          Thurles

9          Dungarvan

10         New Ross

11         Ballinasloe

12         Carrick-on-Shannon

13         Trim

 

 

Closing Contribution on SF Private Members’ Bill

Action Plan for Housing, Housing and Urban Renewal

Private Members’ Bill

Sinn Féin Eoin Ó Broin, T.D., and Kathleen Funchion, T.D.

 Residential Tenancies (Student Rents, Rights and Protections) Bill 2018

 Closing Contribution by Minister of State, Damien English, T.D

Tuesday, 29th May 2018

Ceann Comhairle,

  • On behalf of the Government, I wish to thank Deputies Ó Broin and Funchion for tabling their Private Members Bill to propose extending the protections of the Residential Tenancies Acts, which currently apply to dwellings under certain tenancies, to also apply to dwellings provided under a licence agreement for student accommodation.
  • While the Government cannot at this juncture endorse this specific legislation, as it is premature until such time as the legal considerations and implications are more thoroughly evaluated, we can readily acknowledge and welcome the broad spirit and objective of the Bill, as a genuine attempt to improve the situation for students at a time of under-supply in the residential rental sector.
  • It is in the interest of Government to ensure student accommodation is affordable, and not subject to excessive increases.
  • The existing Government financial support for students is finite in terms of taxpayers’ money. Do you propose cuts to the maintenance grant? Do you propose cuts to grants and funds for mature students in third level education? Or do you propose to cut the wages of our lecturers in the third level sector?.
  • Equally, parents’ or students’ own resources are hard earned and should not be swallowed up either. Students should not have to face entering the work-force with a massive debt to re-pay. We need affordable rents across the country and not just for students.
  • Unreasonable accommodation costs have the potential to prohibit individual students from pursuing studies in their preferred field because their choice of course might not be on offer close to where they live. Location comes into play and for some, an educational course in Dublin is becoming less attainable for financial reasons, predominantly because of high accommodation costs.
  • We need to provide certainty to students whose finances are tight and finite and help limit their financial burdens.
  • As Minister Mitchell O’Connor highlighted earlier, the Government published its National Student Accommodation Strategy (NSAS) to increase the supply of student accommodation and increase the take-up of digs accommodation. The Government has set a target to see an extra 7,000 bed spaces built by the end 2019 and a total of 21,000 additional beds by 2024. We are currently on track to exceed these targets.
  • A greater supply of student accommodation to meet demand has the potential to ease overall pressures on the rental market, including moderating rent increases, on the basis of increased competition and choice.

Sinn Féin’s Private Members Bill

  • However, I do not believe that Sinn Féin’s Private Members Bill will achieve the outcome of having all student accommodation subject to ongoing regulation. I do believe that this is the right outcome to seek, but this Bill won’t deliver that.
  • The Sinn Féin Bill proposes to apply the protections afforded to tenancies under the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2016 to students living in student specific accommodation under licence agreements.
  • The Bill focuses, in particular, on ensuring that the annual rent increase limit of 4%, as it applies to certain dwellings in Rent Pressure Zones, will also apply to student specific accommodation provided under licence.
  • However, a licensing framework might best suit the business model of student-specific accommodation providers, rather than trying to bring them in under the provisions of Residential Tenancies Acts which do not naturally fit with students, who generally occupy their accommodation for around 8 months of the years.
  • There is a risk that the expected supply of student accommodation coming on stream could be negatively affected by the proposed application of the Residential Tenancies Acts to student specific accommodation provided under licence agreement.
  • We need to explore how we can legally protect all students from high accommodation costs, whether they live in public or private accommodation and whether they have signed a tenancy or licence agreement.
  • We need to provide students with a choice on where they wish to live during their college life. Students should not be forced to take whatever accommodation they can get, come August. They should get value for money and reasonable accommodation that best suits their needs.
  • It’s also worth pointing out that the 4% RPZ limit, if applied to student accommodation, would not be retrospective and would not cover new properties.
  • The measures proposed by Sinn Féin cannot be supported at this juncture, on the basis that a more thorough analysis of the impacts by the Department of Education and Skills and the Minister’s Department, as to whether amending the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2016 is the best approach to regulate student specific accommodation provided under licence.
  • It may well be that bespoke legislation, subject to further legal advice, might better achieve the intended purposes of the Bill, without adding significantly to the already very heavy workload of the Residential Tenancies Board.
  • The Department of Education and Skills (DES) is liaising with officials from my Department, including through the forum of the Inter-Departmental Working Group on Student Accommodation which is convened by the DES, to examine the wide range of student accommodation types (and ancillary services) available with a view to considering how best to regulate pricing arrangements.
  • While Government is not in a position to support the Sinn Féin Bill at this stage, we do not oppose it. The Departments of Education and Skills and Housing, Planning and Local Government will consider the Bill’s proposals further.
  • In the event that it is considered that there is a policy-based case for legislation in this area, proposals will be brought forward, either in a standalone Bill or in the context of the second of two Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Bills envisaged this year.

Thank you.

Launch of Report: Evaluation Phase 1 of Dublin City Age Friendly Housing with Support Model

Action Plan for Housing, Active Retirement, Funding, Health, Housing and Urban Renewal

Launch of Report: Evaluation Phase 1 of Dublin City Age Friendly Housing with Support Model

Damien English, T.D., Minister for Housing and Urban Development

Mansion House

4 May 2018

Opening Remarks

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to be with you for the launch of this report on age friendly housing.

The report, which Dr. Kathy Walsh set out for us so clearly this morning, contains the results of an evaluation of the first phase of the Housing with Support Demonstration project.

It is a key priority for Government under the Rebuilding Ireland Plan, with which I am very proud to be associated.

I would like to congratulate Dr. Walsh for her hard work in producing this valuable report on this important issue.

The evaluation of phase one and the toolkit that has been developed will provide a useful reference and guidebook for others who want to replicate this ‘housing with supports’ model in other parts of the country.

I would like to thank Dublin City Council, who generously provided the site for this project, on their lands in Inchicore.

Thanks especially to Brendan Kenny, Deputy Chief Executive and Céline Reilly, Executive Manager in the Council.

The provision of housing is not just about numbers of houses built. It is about how we plan for the future. What we plan today will have an immense impact on how well people will live in their homes in the years ahead.

A key objective of Rebuilding Ireland is to deliver housing that meets current needs while contributing to wider objectives. Rebuilding Ireland also recognises the importance of planning housing for an ageing population.

The fact that this project was brought forward as a pathfinder housing project was significant. It had to be based on best practice and cost effectiveness. as well as taking a cross departmental, interagency approach to housing initiatives for older people. I would like to acknowledge the cooperation between:

My own Department,

The Department of Health,

Dublin City Council,

The HSE,

Age Friendly Dublin,

The Irish Council for Social Housing,

The Approved Housing Bodies and The Housing Agency.

Thanks to all of you, we have a timely project for the future. This was delivered in no small part thanks to the steering committee and its effective chairing by Maurice O’Connell.

Reading the report, so many more people were involved. I want you to know that your work is very much appreciated.

I would like to acknowledge the older people who took the time and care to tell us exactly what is needed for your future independent living. Your evidence is the bedrock to the success of this phase.

Demographics

While Ireland is a relatively young country, one of the key challenges facing us in the years ahead is planning for and addressing the needs of our rapidly ageing population.

The ageing of our population represents one of the most significant demographic and societal developments that this country faces, with the number of people over the age of 65 expected to reach 1.4 million by 2041.

Across the same period, the number over the age of 80 is set to quadruple to 480,000. The implications for public policy in areas such as housing, health and planning are considerable.

Announcing Funding for Housing Adaptation Grants

With such statistics, it is fitting that as well as launching the Evaluation Report today, I am also announcing the 2018 funding that has been secured for the Housing Adaptation Grants Schemes for Older People and People with a Disability.

I am pleased to say that funding of €66.25m has been secured for the schemes in 2018. This is an increase of 11% on 2017.

Over 9,000 households benefitted under the Scheme last year, and with this additional funding, we aim to support the improvement and adaptation of 10,000 homes this year.

I am very aware of the social benefit accruing from these grants in terms of facilitating older people and people with a disability to remain living in their own homes for longer.

It is also very important that these grants can be readily accessed by those who need them. For that reason, my Department has liaised with local authorities to review the accessibility of the scheme and is now working to streamline the application process.

We are moving to a single application form to cover the three schemes:

  1. the grants to assist people with a disability;
  2. those to assist older people in poor housing conditions;
  3. and the mobility aids funding.

This better application arrangement, along with an ‘Easy Read Guide’ to filling the form, will make the grants more accessible to those who need them.

Further consideration will also be given to increasing the funding over the coming years in line with the commitment in Rebuilding Ireland.

Government Policy on Older People

In recognising and valuing the achievement and benefits of our population living longer, we need to ensure that their quality of life is maintained and nurtured.

Government policy in relation to housing for older people, as set out in the Programme for Government and Rebuilding Ireland, is to support older people to live with dignity and independence in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. Research has consistently shown that older people wish to ‘age in place’ close to their families, friends and in the community where they may have lived for many years.

In the past the traditional approach has been to keep older people in their own homes if they can manage, and if not, place them into high support accommodation, such as nursing homes.

It is really good to see more choice in housing types being planned to accommodate our ageing population. This project exemplifies the type of new offering that can be made available for older people in Ireland.

This policy approach is also seen as both contributing to a greater sense of wellbeing for older people and being cost effective. For many, living in adapted or specialist housing reduces reliance on health and social care services and can result in measurably improved health status.

It is important to acknowledge that housing policy for older people is broader and more complex than the mere provision of bricks and mortar.

Indeed, addressing the needs of older people requires a cross-Departmental approach and inter-agency co-operation. The provision of housing for older people, particularly as we look at the future needs of our ageing population, will require a good mix of housing and health policy.

St. Michael’s Estate Pilot Project under Rebuilding Ireland

The St. Michael’s Estate site in Inchicore has been identified as a “Housing with Support” pilot model under Rebuilding Ireland. It will deliver 52 homes.

It is intended to set a new standard for the future of housing provision for older people and to act as an exemplar for others to follow.

The project has been approved for funding of almost €15 million under my Department’s Capital Assistance Scheme with a contribution of €450,000 from the HSE towards additional communal facilities for the residents.

These homes are being future proofed even before they are built, with extra space in all the homes to allow for care staff and/or family overstays, whichever is the more appropriate as time goes by.

This project offers the opportunity for Circle AHB and Alone to design, build and operate a unique development. The new purpose-built housing units will have a range of on-site supports. My congratulations on winning the commission and I wish you every success in successfully delivering on the project.

The ‘Housing with Support’ model brings together a range of services and supports – principally relating to housing, community, social and care needs.

It enables older persons to live full lives in their own homes within their own community. It enables independence and reduces the need to move into long term residential care.

The overall aim is to develop a new model of housing for older people where the key components, physical environment and care supports are provided on-site, integrated into the community and are designed with older people at the core.

Phasing of the Project

Phase 1 of the project focused on the development of the concept and overall design; Phase 2 will provide the detailed design and build process.

It would be my wish and hope that this project will continue with all speed – funding is in place – and that building would commence as soon as possible so that we get to Phase 3, which will see residents move in and occupy the housing by 2020.

It is important that all the key stakeholders continue to work together on this project and drive it forward.

Concluding Remarks

The project we are discussing today is an important element of the Rebuilding Ireland Plan and is all the more significant for the cohort it seeks to support – our older people.

I hope the Inchicore project is the first of many such projects around the country and while I am delighted that Dublin City Council provided the site for this demonstrator project, I see no reason why others can’t replicate this model with private sites and funding.

I want to thank you all once for your efforts to date in turning this concept into reality and I look forward to the day when the homes in Inchicore are complete and occupied.

I want to especially single out the contribution of the chair of the Steering Group, Maurice O’Connell for mention. Maurice has shown a personal commitment to the project, over and above anything that could have been expected. His enthusiasm and drive for the project is infectious and in no small way has brought us to this day.

We have a good news story here and Maurice’s role in bringing housing, social and care supports together within a single scheme is to be commended. He and his Steering Committee deserve our heartiest congratulations.

In conclusion ladies and gentlemen:

  • The groundwork is now complete.
  • We now have a new practical model for housing in Ireland.
  • I look forward to seeing the next two phases of this project completed; and
  • Reaching the stage where people are moving into their new homes for what will be the next new adventure in their lives.

Well done and thank you.

ENDS

Minister English welcomes €2m Youth Capital Funding Scheme 2018

Funding, Youth Affairs

Thursday, 26th April 2018

Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, and Meath West Fine Gael T.D.
Damien English, has welcomed the recent announcement by his
Ministerial colleague Dr. Katherine Zappone of a €2m capital grant
scheme for targeted staff-led youth projects and services across the
country to fund small capital projects.

The Scheme is to support purchase of equipment and to fund small scale
projects including the upgrade of bathrooms and kitchens in youth
services.

Minister English stated: “I am delighted to welcome the launch of this
Scheme. As in previous years, I am confident the grants will assist in
improving the quality of the services to the benefit of young people
involved. In particular, they will improve the physical facilities,
many of which are in areas of disadvantage.”

Eligible local services will be invited by their Education and
Training Board (ETB) to apply for support.

Minister English continued: “The provision of €2m in grants
underscores the Government’s continued commitment to enhance the
quality of services which add such value to our communities. Investing
in Young People is a key priority for Government. This latest
announcement follows the €1.79m in current funding announced for
volunteer led youth clubs earlier this month whih will also be
administered by local ETBs.”

“In 2018 Fine Gael in Government, in partnership with the
Independents, will invest a total of €61.5m in current and capital
funding in clubs, services and supports for young people” stated
Minister English.

It is expected that the scheme will be open for applications by the
end of April 2018. Details will be on the Department of Children’s
website.

The Capital funding scheme is open to applications from Department of
Children and Youth Affairs funded projects under the Special Projects
for Youth Scheme, Youth Information Centres, Young People’s Facilities
and Services Fund and Local Drugs Task Force.

ENDS

English encourages communities to apply for CCTV funding

Agher, Athboy, Ballinacree, Ballinlough, Ballivor, Bohermeen, Carnaross, Castlepollard, Clonard, Collinstown, Delvin, Dromone, Enfield, Johnstown, Killyon, Law and Order, Longwood, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Oldcastle, Summerhill, Trim, Wesmeath

–          Up to 60% of total capital cost available, up to maximum
grant of €40,000
–          Scheme remains open with funding of €1m available each year

Thursday, 26th April 2018

The Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, and Meath West Fine Gael
T.D. Damien English, has encouraged groups in Meath and Westmeath to
apply for the Community based CCTV grant-aid scheme established by the
Justice Department to assist communities in the establishment of CCTV
systems in their local areas. Under the scheme, community groups can
apply for grant-aid of up to 60% of the total capital cost of a
proposed system, up to a maximum grant of €40,000.

Minister English stated: “I am very anxious to ensure that all
interested groups, in both rural and urban areas of Meath West, take
advantage of the availability of this grant-aid scheme. Full details
of the grant aid package are available to download from the Justice
Department website www.justice.ie and officials in that Department are
available to provide additional guidance on the application process
should that be helpful.”

The scheme was developed in line with a commitment in the Programme
for a Partnership Government to support investment in CCTV systems at
key locations along the road network and in urban centres. The scheme
is currently due to run until April 2020 with funding of some €1
million being made available each year.

Minister English added: “The investment represented by the
community-based CCTV grant-aid scheme reflects the value that
communities, especially rural communities, place on CCTV as a means of
deterring crime and assisting in the detection of offenders. I am
conscious too that An Garda Síochána have reviewed the effectiveness
of CCTV systems and indicated that it utilises CCTV in almost every
criminal investigation, during major public events and sporting
occasions, in the investigation of road traffic incidents and in many
other areas requiring police action.  Community-based CCTV systems
have therefore proven to be of significant assistance in the
prevention and detection of crime throughout the State.”

The grant-aid scheme is intended to supplement the existing network of
CCTV systems.  For example there are some 35 Garda CCTV schemes in
operation throughout the State comprising in excess of 500 cameras.
There are also some 45 Community-based CCTV schemes in operation,
established under a previous grant-aid scheme funded by the Department
between 2005 and 2013, encompassing some 367 cameras to which An Garda
Síochána have access. Regarding the road network, services under the
Garda Safety Camera contract commenced in May 2017 and provide an
annual minimum of 90,000 hours of monitoring and surveying vehicle
speed across 1,031 designated safety camera zones. Further expansion
of the use of technologies including CCTV and Automatic Number Plate
Recognition is included under the Garda Commissioner’s Modernisation
and Renewal Programme 2016-2021.

ENDS

Note for editors:

Application forms and guidance documents can be downloaded at
http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Community-Based-CCTV

The rules governing establishment of community CCTV schemes are
provided for in the Garda Síochána Act 2005, as amended, and in the
Garda Síochána (CCTV) Order 2006. This legal framework requires
proposed community CCTV schemes to:

–          have the prior support of the relevant Local Authority,
which must act as data controller in respect of the system;
–          be approved by the local Joint Policing Committee; and
–          have the authorisation of the Garda Commissioner in
accordance with Section 38 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.

New 500 Pupil Secondary School Secured for Enfield – English

Education, Enfield, Meath, School extension

Damien English, Local Fine Gael TD and the Minister for Housing and Urban Development, has welcomed news that Enfield in South Meath will be home to a new Second Level School for 500 pupils under Governments new plans for additional school buildings nationwide.

“Today, my colleague the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, T.D. announced plans for the establishment of new schools over the next 4 years (2019 to 2022). This announcement follows nationwide demographic exercises carried out by his Department into the current and future need for primary and post-primary school places across the country. The new school for Enfield is planned to open in 2020”

Minister English paid tribute to the local community in Enfield for actively campaigning with him since his tenure as Minister of State in the Department of Education for the much-needed school for the South Meath town and surrounding areas.

Minister English stated that “In February of this year I, along with Cllr. Enda Flynn and Breda Duggan met with Minister Bruton on behalf of the Enfield Post Primary Group to present demographic figures for the catchment area which helped to prove the case for a new Second Level School in Enfield.  I would like to thank the many local campaigners for never giving up on the need for the school.  During my time at the Department of Education I ensured that the case for Enfield would be included in this review of school accommodation needs based on demographic needs. The work and dedication by the people of Enfield has helped to secure this new educational facility for the growing South Meath town”.

Cllr. Enda Flynn said of the great local news for Enfield “About ten years ago I was approached about the need to establish a Post Primary school in Enfield. This need has become more evident as the years have gone past. Many people have contributed to the campaign. Breda Duggan and Kevin Mullan have a led a dedicated group in recent years. I am delighted that the wishes of so many in this community are now being realised.

We have wonderful pre-schools and a modern Primary school in Enfield. The announcement that a new Post Primary School will now be built in Enfield will see the last piece of the jig-saw as regards educational facilities for the area.

I appreciate the work that Minister Damien English did while in the Department of Education and Skills to ensure that Enfield was included in the priority areas for the country. The 2018 Review of these areas shows that the facts prove the need for the school in Enfield. Minister English has continued to work with our local group over the past number of years and I am delighted now to be able to welcome this announcement.”

In addition to this announcement Minister English confirmed that Government will also continue to monitor areas where the accommodation of existing schools may need to be expanded in order to meet the needs of the local population. Approximately 40% of extra school places are delivered by extending existing schools.

Further to today’s announcement by the Minister for Education, Minister English has also received confirmation that the Department remains fully committed to all projects on the existing building programme and is progressing all as quickly as possible.

Minister English said “I will continue to work with my colleagues in Government to progress the new school building projects currently approved for St. Mary’s Special School, Colaiste na Mí Post Primary School (Phase ii), Lismullen National, Ard Rí Community National School, St. Ultan’s Special School & St. Joseph’s Mercy Secondary School. The Department of Education’s website is also being updated to ensure that the current status of existing major projects in the school building programme is set out in a more user-friendly format. The status of projects will be more regularly updated to reflect their progress as part of the €8.4 billion investment in school buildings under Project Ireland 2040.

ENDS

English welcomes positive news for Trim Educate Together N.S.

Education, Meath, School extension, Trim

Saturday, 24th March 2018

Damien English T.D., the Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, and
the Fine Gael T.D. for Meath West has welcomed the announcement from his
colleague the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D.
to sanction to expansion of the size of the student numbers at Trim
Educate Together National School within its current school site owing
to local demand.

“While the current temporary site has a limited footprint, and there will be
technical and planning issues to be dealt with by the school, this news from
Minister Bruton is an important acknowledgement by the Department of
Education and Skills of the huge work and commitment of the
Principal,Staff, Board of Management and Parent’s For the pupils who
wish to attend.  All of these different stakeholders have highlighted
the need and demand for this school in Trim and its surrounding area”
Minister English said.

He continued: “As a local T.D. and Minister I supported and will
continue to support their work on behalf of their current and future
pupils and children, and for the Trim town and surrounding areas,
which has a need for additional schools places.”

Minister English concluded: “Ultimately, the next step for Trim
Educate Together is to move to their new premises in the town of Trim.
This will be more suited for growth and education delivery.

ENDS