Speech to Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland in Maynooth

Action Plan for Housing, Action Plan for Jobs, Apprenticeships, Brexit, Budget 2017, Funding, Housing and Urban Renewal, Jobs, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Rebuilding Ireland, Speeches, Trim, Wesmeath

Address by Mr. Damien English, T.D. Minister of State

at the

Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland /SCSI National Conference 2017:

on

Friday, 31 March 2017 at 4:15 p.m. at Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare.

Introduction

Ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to be here this afternoon at the SCSI National Conference 2017 to explore the many difficult and complex challenges facing the construction sector which are being dealt with by your profession.

As you will all be aware, the Government and I have made it our number one priority to resolve the housing and homelessness crisis and under ‘Rebuilding Ireland – Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness’ we have set out a broadly based and comprehensive set of actions to do just that.

However we cannot implement this plan in isolation. We will need both collaboration and assistance from all of our partners involved in housing provision including industry professionals, such as SCSI members.

Shortage of critical Skills in the Construction Sector

To reach our Rebuilding Ireland objective to increase housing output to at least 25,000 homes per annum by 2021 – a doubling of 2015 output levels – requires the necessary skilled work force to be available.

It is crucuial that any new jobs created are available and accessible to those who are unemployed, and that their wealth of experience and talent can contribute to the recovery of the sector.

Significant work has been carried out under Rebuilding Ireland Department of Education; SOLAS; and the Apprenticeship Council with regard to improving skills and education in the sector and I would encourage continued consultation with the sector in that regard.

Affordability – Housing Delivery Costs

One of the challenges the Government faces is providing quality homes at a cost that is affordable. Under Rebuilding Ireland the Government committed to a broad range of measures to tackle, among other things, some of the costs associated with the provision of housing in the interests of reducing construction overheads.

This included a commitment to undertake a detailed analysis, in conjunction with the construction sector, to benchmark housing delivery input costs in Ireland, in order to facilitate an increased level of housing output into the future.

A working group, chaired by my Department, with a broad range of industry representatives was established late last year and has met several times. I am pleased to say that the group has benefited from positive contributions from industry including members of the SCSI.

Building Control Regulations – Reform

The aim of the building control regulatory framework is to ensure that a home or a building is designed and constructed in compliance with the relevant requirements of the Building Regulations.

Too many serious and unprecedented failures have affected our construction industry and economy over the past decade or so. Failures such as pyrite, defective blocks and fire safety which has given rise to difficulties and distress among the many affected homeowners.

The development of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (S.I. 9 of 2014) was introduced to empower competence and professionalism on construction projects and establishing a chain of responsibility that begins the owner who must assign competent persons to design, build, inspect and certify the building works and who, in turn, must account for their contribution through the lodgement of compliance documentation, inspection plans and statutory certificates.

Social Housing – Getting the balance right

My Department’s policy is to achieve an appropriate and balanced mixture of tenures in new developments in order to avoid large mono tenure estates where difficulties have necessitated considerable public expenditure in regeneration.

My Department provides guidance on the scale of social housing which would be suitable in a particular context or area. This guidance is based on the size of the host town or city and the proportionate nature of the development to ensure good social integration and cohesion. For example a maximum size of 75 dwellings in any single mono tenure housing development applies in large urban areas with proportional reductions in size for smaller towns and villages.

Ideally all developments should provide for a mix of tenures and dwelling sizes to cater for all. Consistent with this policy, Part V of the Planning and Development Act is structured to deliver Social Housing in private housing developments.

 Conclusions

Returning to a normally functioning housing and construction sector is critically important in order to support economic growth, social progress and environmental sustainability which will benefit all of our citizens.

While there are many challenges currently facing the housing and the wider construction sectors, we remain fully committed to meeting these challenges.

Ladies and gentlemen thank you for inviting me here today and I wish you every success over the remainder of your conference.

Thank you

Policy Forum Ireland Seminar on “Priorities for the housing sector in Ireland”

Action Plan for Housing, Budget 2017, Speeches

Speech by Minister of State Damien English TD
at
Policy Forum Ireland Keynote Seminar on
“Priorities for the housing sector in Ireland:
Examining the challenges in social and private

housing following Rebuilding Ireland”

Wednesday 29 March 2017
9am
The future of housing policy in Ireland: implementing the Rebuilding Ireland action plan

Check Against Delivery
Introductory Remarks
I would like to thank the Policy Forum Ireland for inviting me to participate in today’s event.

Housing is a top priority for this Government and getting housing right is a key objective in terms of our future. In particular, we need to increase supply across the spectrum – social, affordable, private, rental and purchase.
   
We have a strong Action Plan in Rebuilding Ireland and Minister Coveney and I are absolutely committed to its effective delivery.

I’m happy to have this opportunity today to outline progress across the five pillars of the Action Plan and future priorities.

Background
It is just over eight months since the launch of Rebuilding Ireland and today we have an opportunity to reflect on some of the things we’ve done thus far, while acknowledging that more needs to be done and is being done.
     
While housing supply is the core problem we face, the Action Plan is not simply about bricks and mortar.
 
The aim has to be to build strong communities, quality properties and to meet the diverse and dynamic housing needs of people more effectively than before.

We need to rethink the manner in which housing is provided and Rebuilding Ireland sets the context for reforming our approaches.  

The public expects us to work together to ensure that affordable, quality and accessible housing across all tenure types is available for all who need it and it is in that spirit that I join you here today.

Indeed, it was through a process of engagement that the Government devised Rebuilding Ireland building on the work of the special Oireachtas Committee on Housing.

I believe that such a partnership approach continues to be critically important during the implementation phase.  
Economic and Construction Industry Outlook
Ireland’s recovery from the sharpest economic contraction in its history is now firmly established.

The ESRI’s latest economic projections forecast a baseline sustainable growth rate for the Irish economy of 3% per annum between now and 2025.

Depending on the final form that BREXIT takes, this baseline scenario may vary upwards or downwards but should remain positive.

With GDP continuing to grow at over 3% per annum and with over two million people in employment, as unemployment has fallen to 6.67%, there is now every reason to be confident about the prospects for further economic growth.
National Planning Framework
You can’t talk about the future of housing without making reference to the new National Planning Framework which is currently being developed as a 20 year strategy for spatial development in Ireland.

We need to plan ahead for a radically different Ireland of 2040 including-

·        A national population increase of around 1 million people;

·        More than one-fifth of Ireland’s total population being over 65;

·        More than 500,000 additional people at work;

·        500,000 homes needing locations much closer to services and amenities; and

·        rebuilding community and commercial life in the hearts of our cities and towns and protecting the many qualities of our rural communities.

The development of a Housing State Land Supply Management Strategy is a critical component of the NPF.

A comprehensive public consultation process was put in place and hundreds of submissions have been received.
The views obtained will help shape a draft NPF which is likely to be submitted to Government in the autumn.
Rebuilding Ireland – Action Plan
Rebuilding Ireland is fundamentally about increasing supply.

Our overall target is to increase total housing output to 25,000 homes per year by 2021, effectively doubling the output of 12,600 homes recorded in 2015 prior to the Rebuilding Ireland.  

Around 15,000 dwellings were completed in 2016 and connected by the ESB to the grid. This is an 18% increase in completions year on year. Of these, 6,289 are in the Greater Dublin Area (4,234 in Dublin) and 8,643 in the rest of the country.

This year we expect output to reach 18,000 homes.

We use ESB connections as an overall proxy for housing completions and have done since the 70’s so it’s an important longitudinal comparator. However, the ESB figures are not the only data we use.

We have detailed information on homelessness, social housing delivery and need and on private planning permissions and construction directly from local authorities and we use these data sources to inform policy.  

Overall, while housing supply is increasing, the mix of supply is still a concern in terms of meeting the broad spectrum of current and future demand, particularly in Dublin and other cities.
For example, of the 15,000 in 2016, 42% were one-off dwellings while only 15% were apartments in our cities, 8% were apartments in Dublin, where the need is greatest and less than 1% were apartments in Cork.

In summary, we are beginning to move in the right direction but the supply shortage continues to put pressure on the entire housing system. The supply mix is still off kilter, with too great a proportion of one off housing and not enough apartments in our cities.

We have published all the data and progress reports on the Rebuilding Ireland website. There are detailed quarterly reports on the website outlining specific progress on each action, under every pillar, including actions under the Strategy for the Rental Sector.

You’ll be glad to hear I won’t bring you through every action this morning just some of the highlights.

Homelessness and Social Housing
Addressing homelessness is a top priority for Government. We have a target on ending the use of hotels and increasing the supply of social housing is the way we are going to achieve this.  

The key focus is to deliver an additional 47,000 social homes by local authorities and approved housing bodies through construction, refurbishment, acquisition and leasing.
Additionally, the Housing Assistance Payment will help us accommodate households in the rental sector.

Last year, nearly 18,400 social housing supports were provided from a housing budget provision of €935 million which was expended in full.  This included nearly 5,300 homes built, refurbished and acquired and some 12,000 Housing Assistance Payment tenancies.
     
A full schedule of the pipeline of social housing projects and a report, setting out the position at end 2016, has been published by the Department last month.  It shows over 500 projects, involving the construction of over 8,400 units, at various stages in the process, and the up-to-date position will be published quarterly.

The Government has put the funding of €5.3 billion and other resources in place and local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies have seriously ramped up their operations and delivery pipeline.  

Building More Homes
Of course we also need more homes for people that don’t qualify for social housing. In terms of the wider housing market the objective is to double housing output to deliver over 25,000 units per annum on average by 2021.

The ambition is that far more of these units will be mixed tenure and available at more affordable prices.
There’s a huge amount of work going on here to help get key large scale sites moving through: providing infrastructure funding, financing and planning reforms.  
 
In many ways this is the central cornerstone pillar of Rebuilding Ireland where the Government is using all the levers available, working with local authorities and builders, to get idle sites delivering affordable, mixed tenure housing at scale.

Mixed Tenure Housing on State Lands
First of all we need to make sure that we deliver housing where the State has most levers.

We are at an advanced stage of mapping over 700 State-owned lands for residential development purposes; this is a vital initial step in the new State Housing Land Management Strategy I mentioned earlier.

The next step is to ensure that there is a strong plan to mobilise the most suitable local authority and State sites.

In this regard, O’Devaney Gardens; Oscar Traenor Road; St. Michaels Estate and Corkagh/Grange are good examples in Dublin.

There are opportunities here for local authorities, landowners and developers to innovate and deliver quality product, at affordable prices and at scale, 3,000 homes in total.
Dublin City and South Dublin County Council are doing just that for these sites supported by my Department.

Overcoming Infrastructural Deficits
The Dublin Housing Supply Taskforce identified infrastructural barriers to housing and in order to get sites moving as quickly as possible.

Rebuilding Ireland has put in place a €226 million Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund, better known as LIHAF.

This investment will open up lands to deliver up to 20,000 homes by 2019.  
 
The announcement yesterday of the successful sites means that the necessary planning, design and enabling works will now begin in earnest.

We are taking a joined up policy approach and the Corkagh site in South Dublin will receive LIHAF funding for a road and pumping station that will open up that site for a JV of 1,000 new homes in a great location between the Naas Road and the railway line. This same approach will be repeated across the Country.

Rental Sector Strategy
The Strategy for the Rental Sector, published last December, provides a road map for the development of a badly needed stable, strong and viable rental sector. This will become a real long term choice for people and families.
The Strategy is centred around the the four critical areas of security, supply, standards and services.

The rental sector took the brunt of the unmet demand in recent years and rents increased to unsustainable levels so we needed to help those people and families.

Therefore, a key measure has been the introduction of Rent Pressure Zones, in the four Dublin local authority areas, in Cork city, and in a further 12 designated areas.

This means that rent increases are capped at 4% per annum for the next three years for approximately 55% of tenancies nationally.  

When we examined the rental market, the demand for student accommodation was identified as a particular pressure point.

We therefore targeted the production of purpose-built student accommodation in key urban areas.
 
As I mentioned earlier, there is huge scope for more apartments to be built for the Rental market particularly in our cities and this is a key focus of our attention at present.

I’d be interested in your thoughts on how we can accelerate the delivery of build-to-rent apartment developments in particular.

Utilising Existing Homes
We are also anxious to get the most out of the housing stock we have. In social housing we have targeted this for a number of years now bringing around 7,000 homes back into use over the last 3 years.

More broadly, preliminary results from Census 2016 indicate that there are just under 200,000 vacant dwellings nationwide, representing approximately 10% of the overall national housing stock.

A Vacant Housing Re-Use Strategy being prepared by the Housing Agency, working with the Department and other stakeholders, is well advanced.

One of the things we need to do is understand that 200,000 figure much better and target the real opportunities in places where demand is highest.

In the meantime, we have put in place a variety of schemes aimed at getting thousands of empty homes back into use.

The Repair and Leasing Scheme launched with funding of €140m over 5 years to allow Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies to bring up to 3,500 vacant private houses into social housing use by 2021.  

An investment fund of €32m is available in 2017 which will enable 800 vacant properties to be brought back into use as new homes for families on Local Authority waiting lists.
A Buy and Renew Initiative is also being introduced, with €25m in funding for 2017, which will enable local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies to purchase and remediate private housing units for social housing use.  

This will secure 150 homes for social housing purposes in 2017.

Importantly, a lot of the problem vacant units are not houses but commercial properties.  We are therefore looking at how Planning and Building Control arrangements can be adapted to facilitate and streamline the conversion of unused commercial properties into residential units.
 
Budget 2017
The level of ambition evident across the five pillars of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan has been fully supported by Budget 2017.  

Increased and additional housing-related current and capital funding streams, are complemented by a comprehensive package of housing market supports.

The tax rebate for first time buyers is proving to be a game changer in stimulating demand for new homes as it assists buyers in meeting their deposit requirements and gives confidence to builders that homes put on the market will sell.
 
All in all, the Government is allocating €1.3 billion to housing programmes this year, a transformational 39% increase over 2016.
 This investment will see the housing needs of over 21,000 households being met in 2017 and the early signs in terms of spend and output are very positive.

Conclusion
In conclusion, we are now very much in the implementation phase of the Rebuilding Ireland programme and people expect to see improved delivery of private, rented and social housing.

All in all, I think the record shows that the Government has a strong and comprehensive plan and that the interventions and actions taken are beginning to work.

I have no doubt that the further actions on LIHAF; Vacant Housing and State land management will also have a major impact. But in housing there is no quick fix and bringing on the increased supply will take time.

Finally, I hope you enjoy the forum and will take the opportunity to network and discuss how we can work together to overcome the housing problems we face and achieve the objectives set out under Rebuilding Ireland.

THANK YOU

Minister English confirms Navan and Meath to benefit from new Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund

Action Plan for Housing, Action Plan for Jobs, Housing and Urban Renewal, Jobs, Johnstown, Meath, Navan, Rebuilding Ireland, Roads

Tuesday, 28th March 2017

€8,180,000 for projects to create 700 homes, with longterm potential
for 2,170 says Meath based Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal

Navan and Ratoath are to benefit from a new Government fund announced
today to help Meath County Council address significant public
infrastructure deficits, where the lack of enabling and accessing
infrastructure has been hindering the necessary development of
housing.

The following are the details of the 2 Meath based projects:

Farganstown, Navan
€5.68m
Access infrastructure to be provided – Distributor Road
No. of Houses to be provided: 400
Long term potential: 1800

Ratoath
€2.5m
Access infrastructure to be provided – Outer Relief Road
No. of Houses to be provided: 300
Long term potential: 370

Minister English said: “The Government is very serious about tackling
Meath and Ireland’s housing crisis. Today’s new fund shows it is a
priority. It represents joined up thinking, pooling of resources and
innovation between local and national Government and private partners
to achieve real results for local communities and for families who
need homes. Today’s announcement is not just about new homes for Navan
and Ratoath, it means that both of these  two communiities and our
County can grow and develop to their full potential in very respect,
economically as well as socially and sustainably.”

Local Fine Gael Councillor for the Navan Area, Cllr. Jim Holloway
said: “The development of the lands at Farganstown has long been a
priority for me as a local Councillor for Navan. I am delighted with
this news today which will mean 400 homes in the short term, with a
long term potential for 1,800 new homes. This development will allow
Navan to reach its full potential, consistent with its Local Area
Plan, the County Development Plan and Meath’s Economic Strategy.
Furthermore it means upwards of 1,800 families into the future have
the dignity and the comfort of a home to call their own, convenient to
where they work, are educated and can play.”

ENDS

Notes to Editor:

Ø €226million for strategic infrastructure to facilitate housing nationally

Ø 23,000 homes by 2021 is the target

Ø 34  projects across 15 Local Authority areas including Meath announced today

The Government has been aware for some time that the housing crisis
would need to be addressed in a number of different ways.  Pillar 3 of
Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness focuses
on increasing overall housing supply and seeks to address the severe
housing shortage in urban areas.  One of the main elements of the
Pillar is the establishment of a €200 million Local Infrastructure
Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF), with €150 million to be provided from
Exchequer funding and matching funding of €50 million from Local
Authorities.

Local authorities were invited to submit proposals for investment in
public infrastructure such as roads, bridges and amenity spaces, with
the objective of relieving critical infrastructural blockages, which
would in turn enable the accelerated delivery of housing on key
development sites and improve the viability of new housing projects in
urban areas of high demand for housing. The call for proposals for the
€200 million fund was announced on 26 August 2016, with a closing date
of 14 October 2016.

New jobs and disposable household income on the rise in Meath and Westmeath – English

Action Plan for Housing, Action Plan for Jobs, Budget 2017, Business, Funding, Housing and Urban Renewal, Jobs, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Research and Innovation, Skills, Trim

Thursday, 23rd March 2017

CSO report shows increases in jobs and disposable household income in
all regions of the country

“Recent CSO data shows that disposable income in Meath and Westmeath
households is on the increase.” That’s according to the Minister for
Housing and Urban Renewal and Meath West T.D. Damien English. Minister
English credits a growing economy, with more people back at work, for
this positive development.

“The most recent CSO data shows that in 2014, all regions across the
country showed increases in disposable household income. Here in Meath
there was a 4.5% increase in disposable household income in 2014
compared to 2013, while in Westmeath the figure was 3.1% which was the
highest for any midland county. This positive development is thanks to
our growing economy, which has seen more people back at work.
Unemployment has fallen to 6.6% down from a high of 15.2% back in
2011. There are now over two million people at work.  But we cannot
rest until we reach full employment again locally and nationally”
Minister English said.

“The increase in disposable income obviously has a positive knock on
effect here in Meath in Westmeath as people have a little more money
in their pockets, which is good news for local businesses and services
and spreads the benefits of recovery to all in society.

“We are seeing the evidence of this in the latest Enterprise Ireland
figures, which show that 200 new full and part-time jobs were
delivered in 2016 by the 207 small businesses in Meath that have been
supported by the Local Enterprise Offices. These businesses support a
total of  927 jobs here in Meath. No doubt they will benefit from this
increase in household disposable income locally, and we will see
further jobs created by small businesses. In Westmeath there were 283
new jobs in 265 Local Enterprise Office supported companies,
delivering a new total of 1,375 jobs at the end of 2016 in this
sector.

“Fine Gael is working hard to build a fair and compassionate society
with thriving communities across every region of Ireland. In order to
do so we must protect and sustain the economic progress we have made,
so that we can use it benefit the people who need it most. That
economic progress has been hard won over the last 6 years. We cannot
afford to throw it all away on other parties who would risk our
recovery.

”Fine Gael is working day and night to ensure that every single family
in Meath and Westmeath sees the benefits of an economy that is growing
strongly once again.”

Speech to RGDATA on Town Centres

Action Plan for Housing, Business, Castlepollard, Enfield, Funding, Heritage, Housing and Urban Renewal, Innovation, Jobs, Johnstown, Longwood, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Oldcastle, Rebuilding Ireland, Summerhill, Trim, Wesmeath

Opening Address by

Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal

Damien English T.D

Town Centre Health Check (TCHC) Workshop

16 March 2017

Dublin Castle

Revitalising Ireland’s Towns: Pilot Training Workshop No. 2 (2 of 2)

 

Ladies and gentleman, as Minister with responsibility for Housing and Urban Renewal, I am delighted to be here with you this morning.

 

I would like to thank RGDATA and the Heritage Council for the invitation to be here for what promises to be a very interesting and informative workshop.

 

I would also like to commend both organisations, and their partners, for their continued work towards the development and creation of a robust Town Centre Health Check mechanism for Irish towns.

 

I understand that significant progress has been made to date under the programme and I wish to acknowledge the concerted efforts of all those involved in the participating pilot towns across the country.

 

In particular, I welcome the co-operative and inclusive approach being taken by you and all the stakeholders in developing this training programme.

 

 

Town Centre Health Checks

Our town centres are much more than simply bricks and mortar. They are the core, the essence, and the lifeblood of our urban areas throughout the country.

 

It is therefore imperative that they are preserved, maintained and revitalised so that they can be sustainable for generations to come.

 

Following our recent economic downturn and the negative impacts associated with it, we now face the increasing challenge of ensuring that our town centres can be viable places which will attract people to live in, work in and visit.

 

One of the most negative and visible impacts of the recent economic downturn has unquestionably been the large levels of vacancy in the retail, commercial and residential sectors in some of our town centres.

 

The trend of developing new retail centres on the edge of towns has also led to a loss of trade, footfall and vitality within the inner core areas of towns.

The vibrancy of many main streets and urban centres has been threatened by such past actions.

 

It is my firm belief though, that we now have a great opportunity to develop and plan for our Town Centres so that they not only survive, but they thrive.

 

I believe also that the Town Centre Health Check training programme will contribute strongly to seizing the opportunity for our urban centres across the country.

 

It focusses on utilising best practice, including international best practice, in developing shared and integrated approaches to town centre renewal, across all sectors – retail, commercial and residential – which will also support Government policies and strategies for our towns.

 

The reality is that if our urban areas are to survive and thrive, they need more residents supplemented by nearby retail units and services – the two are interdependent.

 

This is largely what the Town Centre Health check concept is aimed at addressing – revitalising our towns and enhancing their economic sustainability – and both Minister Coveney and I are fully supportive of this approach.

 

Government priority on Urban Regeneration

The Programme for a Partnership Government, published in May 2016, sets out the ambitious priority attached to the area of urban regeneration by the current Government. It includes a series of specific actions aimed at facilitating the regeneration of our urban centres.

 

The Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness – Rebuilding Ireland, published in July 2016, further reinforces the Government’s commitment to the area of urban regeneration.

 

This proposes a further range of measures in this area, as does the recent Action Plan for Rural Development – published in January 2017 by Minister Humphries – which has a more specific focus and objective of preserving and enhancing rural towns and villages, as well as their surrounding communities.

In the context of Rebuilding Ireland, I am presently chairing an Urban Renewal Working Group comprising senior representatives from my Department, local authorities and other relevant bodies with a view to bringing forward proposals for new urban regeneration measures.

 

Measures that will support those already in place, including my Department’s Social Housing Regeneration Programme and the recently announced “Repair and Lease” and the “Buy and Renew” schemes.

 

Having regard to my Ministerial responsibilities, vacancy and dereliction in urban areas is an issue that I have a particular interest in.

 

Consequently a key focus of the Working Group has been on measures to address vacancy in urban areas, of both residential and commercial premises, with a view to bringing currently vacant units back into productive use.

 

We are now nearing the conclusion of the Working Group’s deliberations.

It is my intention to announce the new urban regeneration measures arising from that process in the near months ahead. Measures that will be designed to help our Town Centres to survive and thrive.

 

Sustainable urban development

The challenges facing Ireland today are undoubtedly complex ones. This is particularly the case in cities and urban areas having regard to:

  • the ongoing increase in population,
  • increasing migration,
  • changing demographic trends, and
  • the ongoing increasing urbanisation of society as more and more people gravitate towards living in larger urban areas.

 

Cities and towns are the main drivers of economic activity, competing to attract skills, investment and employment.

 

It is consequently important that a comprehensive, holistic and integrated approach is adapted to sustainable urban development.

 

Enhancing the desirability and “liveability” of our urban centres through good place-making, and promoting well-managed, liveable, safe, socially inclusive, resource-efficient and environmentally sustainable urban areas is key to this.

 

In this regard, key urban place-making incorporates a range of complex and inter-related issues:

  • the design of public spaces;

 

  • the provision of supporting infrastructure and public realm;

 

  • the need for more compact and efficient urban design;

 

  • increased housing density maximizing the use of available land to help combat urban sprawl;

 

  • the provision of necessary facilities, including retail, as well as other supporting amenities and open spaces;

 

  • the prioritisation of sustainable transport modes;

 

  • increasing energy efficiency;

 

  • as well as tackling deprivation and related social issues in communities.

 

The overlapping nature of these quite complex, distinct and diverse range of issues is such that there is a need to consider an overall strategy.

A national, comprehensive and forward-looking urban policy – that will allow the opportunities in urban areas to be fully realised.

 

One that will enshrine that the right development will take place in the right location, at the right time.

 

National Planning Framework – Ireland 2040

All of this requires a comprehensive and integrated overarching framework approach to planning, to design and to the provision of supporting infrastructure and services.

 

This applies whether we are improving the existing urban environment already in place, accommodating new development, or both.

 

In this connection, my Department is currently in the process of developing a new spatial plan for Ireland, a National Planning Framework entitled Ireland 2040.

 

Public consultation has already commenced and which it is intended will be finalised and published later this year.

The new plan will set out an overarching, long-term framework to guide future development in terms of the Government objectives – including in relation to urban development – to be taken account of in the subsequent development of regional strategies, local authority development plans and LAP’s.

 

In setting out a national vision for the future development and growth of Ireland to 2040, a key policy consideration will be how we best manage our urban centres, development in and around those urban centres, as well as how we control the urban sprawl associated with urban growth centres.

 

In the last twenty years, 45% of Ireland’s population growth (more than 500,000 people), occurred in just six local authority areas, each of which adjoin, but none of which include, Dublin, Cork and Galway.

 

Against this background, it is therefore important in the context of our new national spatial plan that the focus of investment and development will be spread more widely than in the past to act as a counter-balance to Dublin, thereby facilitating more balanced regional development of the country as a whole.

Concluding remarks

By way of conclusion, cities and towns are where most of our population now congregate and it is therefore imperative that in this context, every effort is made to make our urban centres more sustainable.

 

To make our urban centres better places in which to live, work and do business in for all of our citizens. Together we can put the plans in place to facilitate this and the Town Centre Health Check is important in this regard.

 

I renew my congratulations, support and thanks to Alison Harvey from the Heritage Council, to Tara Buckley and RGDATA.

 

I thank you all for engaging in your local Town Centre.

 

Together we can ensure that or town centres survive.

 

Together we will help our town centres thrive.

Thank you.

Minister Damien English welcomes rollout of the Repair and Leasing Scheme for vacant houses in Meath

Action Plan for Housing, Housing and Urban Renewal, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Trim

The Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal Damien English TD,
today (10 March, 2017) welcomed the scheme that targets vacant
properties and secures them for social housing, by financing the cost
of repairs, as it was rolled out in Meath. This year nationally €32m
has been provided for the scheme. This means that up to 800 vacant
properties can be brought back into use nationally as new homes for
families on local authority waiting lists.

Minister English said, “The scheme is demand-led which means the more
leases the local authority secures the more funding they get.  This is
a great opportunity for owners of vacant houses with the local
authority financing of the cost of repairs.  In fact they don’t even
have to get involved in arranging the works – the local authority will
do that – and in return they get a secure and reliable income from
regular rental payments, without having to take on landlord
responsibilities. I want to see Meath County Council making the most
of this scheme and I want to see them maximising the benefits for the
people of Meath.”

The Department is currently working with local authorities to
implement the scheme on a local basis.  A range of Approved Housing
Bodies around the country have also expressed an interest in working
with local authorities to deliver new social homes using the scheme.
“I see these bodies having a significant role in its success – their
local knowledge, experience of managing refurbishment projects, as
well as being good landlords will be invaluable” said the Minister.

The scheme will be monitored very closely this year in order to ensure
that it works and is cost effective. This approach will also assist in
understanding the real potential of the scheme over the coming years.

The Repair and Leasing Scheme is one of a number of initiatives in
Rebuilding Ireland to address vacant properties around the country.
Other initiatives include the Buy and Renew Scheme which provides
funding for local authorities to purchase vacant properties and
remediate them and a new National Vacant Housing Re-Use Strategy which
is currently being finalised.

Property owners interested in the scheme should contact their local
authority directly and register their interest.

ENDS

Notes:

The scheme is targeted at owners of vacant properties who cannot
afford or access the funding required to bring them up to the standard
for rental property. Subject to the suitability of the property for
social housing, and the agreement of the property owner, the cost of
the necessary repairs will be met upfront by the local authority or an
approved housing body (AHB). This allows for the property owner to
sign-up to a lease arrangement for a length that is linked to the
value of the repairs, subject to a minimum of 10 years. The value of
the repairs will then be offset incrementally against the agreed
rental payment over a defined period within the lease.

A property owner can either choose to arrange a contractor to carry
out the repairs themselves, or the local authority or AHB can arrange
this instead. Property owners will not be required to take on landlord
responsibilities and the local authority or AHB will have on-going
management and maintenance responsibilities in respect of the
properties.

The local authority will determine the eligibility for the scheme
having regard to the location and the suitability of the property for
social housing and also taking into consideration the extent of the
repairs that may be required. The maximum costs of repairs allowable
under this initiative will be €40,000.

Between 2017 and 2021 it is anticipated that 3,500 units will be
secured for social housing through the scheme. A budget of €140m will
support this activity.

The success of the national pilot will determine the delivery
expectation in 2018 and future years and the financial requirements.

Speech to Homes of the Future Industry Day

Action Plan for Housing, Speeches

Patrick Durkan, MD Durkan Residential

Address by Mr. Damien English, T.D. Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government

at the Silken Park Industry Day on Wednesday, 22 February at 11.30 a.m.

at the Silken Park Development, Citywest, Dublin 24.

Introduction

  • Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to be here this morning to speak at the Durkan Homes Silken Park Passive Development launch.  As a Minister of State with responsibility for building standards and regulations, I am very pleased to be here at what is an exemplar development of passive houses constructed using modern, sustainable building techniques.
  • At the outset, I would like to thank Durkan Homes for inviting me here today and for their commitment to increasing awareness of energy efficiency.
  • I am informed that informed that the development is hardwired for electric vehicle charging point. The pre-cabling of dwellings for Electric Vehicles is a proposal in an amendment to the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive currently under review and these dwelling are cutting edge by including this feature.
  • Energy efficiency and renewable energy are vital to achieving Ireland’s targets under the EU 2020 Climate and Energy strategy and the Paris Agreement and the enabling of electric vehicles and renewables in buildings is a key initiative in addressing the energy system holistically and will significantly facilitate the achievement of Ireland’s Renewable Energy targets.
  • It is important that developers show leadership and innovation in raising awareness of energy efficiency and making it affordable for ordinary homeowners.

Rebuilding Ireland

  • The Government and I have made it our number one priority to resolve the housing and homelessness crisis and under “Rebuilding Ireland” we have set out a broadly based and comprehensive set of actions to do just that.
  • In light of the topic of today’s event I should highlight that a stated core objective of “Rebuilding Ireland” is delivering quality and  energy efficient  housing in a way that meets current needs while supporting  sustainable communities and maximising the contribution of the built environment to addressing climate change

Nearly Zero Energy Buildings & Part L Review

  • The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive has set ambitious building energy performance standards which we are working hard to ensure that we achieve.
  • As you may be aware the Directive defines a Nearly Zero Energy Building or NZEB as a building that has a very high energy performance where the nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should be covered to a very significant extent by energy from renewable sources including energy from renewable sources produced on-site or nearby.This definition was inserted into the Building Regulations in January of this year through the Building Regulations (Amendment) Regulations 2017.
  • My Department intend to launch a public consultation this month in order to review and amend Part L of the Building Regulations to provide for nearly zero energy performance requirements in buildings other than dwellings.
  • This upcoming review of Part L in respect of buildings other than dwellings will clearly set out NZEB performance requirement for new non-residential buildings.  The new regulations will include a requirement for renewable energy on all new buildings. This process will be replicated to amend Part L of the Building Regulations in respect of Dwellings during 2018.

Conclusion

  • While there are many challenges currently facing the housing and the wider construction sectors, we remain fully committed to meeting our climate change and energy efficiency commitments.  Our intentions in this regard are reinforced under “Rebuilding Ireland” which commits us to maximising the contribution of the built environment to addressing climate change.
  • We are fully committed to meeting our obligations under the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and intend that all new buildings will be Nearly Zero Energy Buildings by 31 December 2020 and that new buildings owned and occupied by public authorities will be nearly zero energy after the end of December 2018.
  • Ladies and gentlemen thank you for inviting me here today and I hope you enjoy the rest of the event.
  • Thank you.

Address to the National Housing Conference 2017:

Action Plan for Housing, Rebuilding Ireland, Speeches
Address by Mr. Damien English, T.D.
Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal 
at the National Housing Conference 2017:

Rebuilding Ireland – Delivering a Sustainable Housing Recovery 

on

Monday, 13 February 2017 at 2:20 p.m.

at

Main Conference Room, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2.
Introduction
  • Ladies and gentlemen, as Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, I am delighted to be here this afternoon to open the National Housing Conference 2017

  • I wish to thank you for taking the time to travel to Dublin this afternoon to attend and take part in the conference.

 

  • I look forward to listening to you and to hearing your views on‘Rebuilding Ireland – Delivering a Sustainable Housing Recovery’.

  • I wish to thank the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland and my own Department for organising this biennial event.  

 

  • I understand that as far back as 1969, long before I was born, that our two organisations identified the importance of promoting quality housing in Ireland.  

 

  • To that end, a joint committee was formed to arrange this biennial event – a forum where the latest developments in housing, both public and private, could be presented and discussed by those involved with their design and delivery.

  • With this in mind, it is important to reiterate that the acute shortage of homes available to those who need them is one of the greatest challenges facing this country today.  

 

  • It is having a profound effect on the daily lives of many individuals and families who feel they have been failed by the system and who ultimately need homes.

  • As you will all be aware, the Government, my Department, Minister Coveney and I have made it our number one priority to resolve the housing crisis.

 

  • Rebuilding Ireland’ is our Action Plan which sets out to resolve this societal and economic problem.

 

  • I am delighted that many of the core themes in our Action Plan will feature strongly in your deliberations over the next two days.

 

  • Because ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ cannot be implemented in isolation.

 

  •  Collaboration and assistance is required.

 

  • They are required from you here today – our partners.  They are required from everyone involved in housing provision:

 

  • RIAI members
  • Academics
  • Policy makers
  • Planners
  • Local Authorities
  • Approved Housing Bodies
  • Financial Institutions
  • Landowners
  • Site Owners
  • The list is endless

    Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan


  • “Rebuilding Ireland” sets out a practical and readily implementable group of actions that will increase housing supply in support of creating a functioning and sustainable housing system that is capable of: –

  • providing homes for families in emergency accommodation;

  • tackling the underlying causes of people living on our streets;

  • producing a minimum of 25,000 housing units nation-wide every year by 2020;

  • responding to meet future housing needs post-2020; and

  • delivering more social housing, much faster, in tandem with putting in place financially sustainable mechanisms to meet current and future requirements for social housing supports.
  • Since taking up my role as Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, I have seen daily the impacts that the housing shortage is having on our people and their families.  I have seen how the system is struggling to cope with, and devise solutions to, our housing problems.

  • “Rebuilding Ireland” is, I believe, an enabling plan that will resolve the housing problems and will solve our housing shortage in Ireland.  

 

  • The plan is backed up by a commitment of funding.  We have set out €5.35 billion to make a massive impact in providing much needed social housing.

 

  • We have provisions for a €200m infrastructure fund that will unlock the potential of key sites to deliver thousands of homes to the market.









    2016 Delivery


  • To concentrate on the challenge of delivering more social housing, in a faster manner – I believe that we have made a good start since “Rebuilding Ireland” was first published in July 2016.

  • Last year, over 18,300 social housing supports were provided across a range of delivery programmes.  

 

  • Preliminary data shows that around 5,280 new social houses were either purchased, leased, remediated or built by local authorities and approved housing bodies.

 

  • The acquisition of around 1,500 houses and apartments as part of this number, gives early delivery to meet social housing need.  

 

  • There are still areas in the country where it is still more affordable to buy than to build – and we support such acquisitions where this makes sense.
  • We also continued to remediate vacant social housing in 2016, with around 2,000 brought back to use.

  • The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme delivered 12,000 homes for those on the housing waiting lists in 2016.  HAP is, and will remain, an important element in supporting the provision of housing for those in acute social need.



    Reuse Strategy


  • A central element in “Rebuilding Ireland” is the development of a ‘National Vacant Houses Reuse Strategy’.  Work on this is progressing well.

  • Preliminary results from Census 2016 show 200,000 dwellings (excluding holiday homes and derelict houses) are vacant, some 9.8% of overall housing stock.  By comparison, the Netherlands has a 2.5% vacancy rate.

  • The ‘National Vacant Houses Reuse Strategy’ will be supplemented by a range of other measures including:

 

  • The development of new urban renewal measures
  • Projects under the Social Housing Capital Programme
  • And the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.

  • I am especially pleased to see that opportunities for reuse of partially vacant premises, by delivering housing over the shop in Irish town and City centres, will be presented here tomorrow.



    Rapid Build


  • In terms of accelerating delivery, we have looked hard at the rapid delivery programme.  We now have a panel of rapid build contractors selected under the new ‘Office of Government Procurement’ contract framework.

  • Using this framework will save time on
    • design
    • procurement and
    • on the construction of social housing

  • At the end of 2016, 350 rapid build units were advancing through various stages of delivery.  Of these, 22 units are being lived in at Poppintree, Ballymun.

  • A further 650 units will be advanced in 2017, with 500 being targeted for delivery in 2018.

 

  • I note with interest the presentation later today on the topic of‘Off Site fabrication to assist rapid delivery’.



    Quality Housing


  • While innovation in housing design and the mechanisms to support accelerated delivery are to be welcomed, as we return to a more significant scale of housing provision, we must not lose sight of the fundamental principles of quality and sustainability.
  • The quality of our built environment profoundly affects the quality of people’s everyday lives.  In very broad terms, good quality housing, both public and private, in sustainable communities needs to be: –

  • socially & environmentally suitable in terms of density, type, affordability and mix of tenure;

  • appropriate in terms of architectural design and accessibility;

  • adaptable, durable and resource efficient;

  • located in safe, secure and integrated neighbourhoods.

  • I understand there will a number of sessions at conference tomorrow which will closely examine these themes. I will have a particular interest in hearing about your thoughts on ‘Promoting town and city centre regeneration’ in this context.

  • Vince Lombardi, the famous American footballer and coach once said “perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence”.

  • And excellence is what is needed in terms of quality for Irelands housing sector.  

 

  • Public tolerance for poor building quality has been well and truly exhausted; the mistakes of the past will be avoided.  Together we can ensure that quality and sustainability becomes the watchwords in all we do in Housing for decades to come.



    Conclusions


1. Ladies and gentlemen; returning to a sustainable and normal housing and construction sector is critical to support economic growth, social progress and environmental sustainability.

    • While the Government is acting, the challenge does not stop there.  
    • To conclude, I have one ask of you today.  

    • It is vital that, as the actions set out in “Rebuilding Ireland” are implemented, that you

 

  • The local authorities,
  • The approved housing bodies,
  • The architects,
  • The construction professionals,
  • The planners,
  • The builders and developers of Ireland

  • proactively respond to the housing supply challenge we face.  I have no doubt that together we will succeed.

  • I now look forward to listening to you, to what promises to be a stimulating conference.

 

  • I wish you every success over the course of the next two days and for your future in the Housing in Ireland.

 
ENDS

Speech at Launch of Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge

Action Plan for Housing, Active Retirement, Funding, Health, Housing and Urban Renewal, Innovation, Meath, Rebuilding Ireland, Research, Speeches, Wesmeath

Address by Mr. Damien English, T.D.

Minister of State

at the Rebuilding Ireland – Launch of Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge

on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 at 10:40 a.m.

at the Department of the Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Conference Room, Custom House, Dublin 1

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to be here this morning to launch the Rebuilding Ireland – Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge. As many of you are aware I announced, last September, at the National Ploughing Championships, that I had provided €100,000 in prize money to support the Design Challenge and today’s launch is the culmination of many months of hard work by the Design Challenge Steering Group, which is chaired by my Department.

At the outset, it is important to reiterate that homelessness and the acute shortage of homes available to those who need them is one of the greatest challenges facing this country today. It is having a profound effect on the daily lives of many individuals and families who feel they have been failed by the system and who urgently require homes.

As I have said before, the Government and I have made it our number one priority to resolve the housing and homelessness crisis and under “Rebuilding Ireland” we have set out a broadly based and comprehensive set of actions to do just that. However we cannot implement this plan without the collaboration and assistance of our partners in industry, our NGO’s and the wider public sector. This Design Challenge is a strong example of that collaboration.

Housing in Ireland and Rebuilding Ireland as a solution to the challenges

  • As you may be aware “Rebuilding Ireland” sets out a practical and readily implementable set of actions that will increase housing supply to create a functioning and sustainable housing system that is capable of: –
  • Providing homes for families in emergency accommodation;
  • Tackling the underlying causes, addiction and otherwise, of people living on our streets;
  • Producing a minimum of 25,000 housing units nation-wide every year by 2020;
  • Responding post-2020 to meet future housing needs;
  • Delivering more social housing, much faster, and putting in place financially sustainable mechanisms to meet current and future requirements for social housing supports.
  • Since taking up this Ministry, I have seen daily the negative impacts that the housing shortage is having on our people and their families and how the whole system is struggling to cope and devise solutions.
  • “Rebuilding Ireland” is, I believe, a really good starting point to resolve these problems. Our commitment of €5.35 billion will go a long way to providing much needed social housing and the €200m infrastructure fund should unlock the potential of key sites to deliver thousands of homes for the market.
  • The Government has set out ambitious targets for the delivery of social housing supports over the lifetime of Rebuilding Ireland. Last year, over 18,300 social housing supports were provided across a range of delivery programmes. Within this, preliminary data show that around 5,280 new social houses were either purchased, leased, remediated or built by local authorities and approved housing bodies across the country using a range of funding mechanisms and delivery programmes.

 Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge

In addition to the actions aimed at the accelerated delivery of quality housing and a more responsive housing market, Pillar 2 of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, contains specific commitments to meet the housing needs of the vulnerable, which includes our older people.

As with many of the themes within Rebuilding Ireland, addressing the needs of older people will require cross-Departmental and inter-agency co-operation and collaboration. In this regard, the commitments in the Action Plan are complementary to the objectives of the Programme for Actions for Smart Ageing published by the Department of the Taoiseach in April last year.

The National Positive Ageing Strategy (NPAS), published in 2013, also provides a framework for cooperation to address age-related policy and service delivery across Government and society in the years ahead. This Strategy is intended to promote older people’s health and well-being so that older people can continue to contribute to social, economic, cultural and family life in their own communities for as long as possible, thereby representing a vision for an age-friendly society.

The Strategy also highlights that ageing is not just a health issue, but rather requires a whole of Government approach to address a range of social, economic and environmental factors that affect the health and wellbeing of our ageing citizens.

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

Across this same period, the number over the age of 80 is set to quadruple, from 128,000 in 2011 to some 480,000.

The implications for public policy in areas such as housing, health and urban and rural planning are considerable.

Government policy is to support older people to live with dignity and independence in their own homes and communities for as long as possible.

In terms of cost effectiveness, home care costs in Ireland are estimated to be consistently lower than hospitalisation. For many, living in adapted or specialist housing reduces reliance on health and social care services and can result in measurably improved health status and lower rates of hospital admissions, while also contributing to a greater sense of well-being among our older population.

Smart ageing is a broad concept that has been largely defined as using technology and innovation in both the public and private sectors to design and produce products, services, solutions, and systems to improve the quality of life of people ages 50 and over.

Adaptable and smart homes will be the future in the developed world with advantages from saving energy to creating homes suitable for a lifetime. This Design Challenge presents an opportunity to develop the know-how and commercialise the knowledge of smart ageing adaptation to support assisted living for older people in their homes.

In terms of housing there are collaborative approaches already underway involving local authorities; the HSE; the Department of Health and NGO’s (such as Age Friendly Ireland). For example, the Age Friendly Cities and Counties Programme, which provides a local multi-agency collaborative structure in partnership with older people, with local authorities taking the lead on changing thinking about ageing, and how services are planned and delivered.

The Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge aims to stimulate and encourage the design and construction industries to be innovative in designing and delivering housing solutions for older people and implements Action 2.19 of Rebuilding Ireland.

This Design Challenge, focuses on three distinct areas: –

  • smart technologies in housing for older people;
  • adaptation of existing houses to meet the needs of older people; and
  • life-time communities.

As I mentioned earlier, my Department, established a steering group comprising the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design which is part of the National Disability Authority, the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, the Construction Industry Federation, Enterprise Ireland and Dublin City Council.

This steering group, in consultation with stakeholder groups and other interested parties, has developed a comprehensive Design Challenge brief for the competition

This brief sets out clearly how to participate, what is required of potential entrants, and of course details regarding the awarding of prize money amounting to €100,000 that I announced late last year to support this “Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge”.

Conclusion

Returning to a normally functioning housing and construction sector is critically important in order to support economic growth, social progress and environmental sustainability which will benefit all of our citizens irrespective of age, size or disability.

While the Government is acting, the challenge does not stop there. It is vital that, as the 84 actions to facilitate house building are implemented, local authorities, approved housing bodies, voluntary bodies, builders and developers proactively respond to the housing supply challenge.

The “Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge” is a small but key element of the Rebuilding Ireland solution.

I urge everyone involved in its implementation and those of you here today, to use your networks, contacts and organisations to promote and highlight the Design Challenge in order to elicit support and to invite entries from as many of our talented innovators as possible.

I call on anyone with a novel and inventive idea that can be further presented as a solution; that is feasible, cost effective and has the potential for mainstreaming into the future in support of smart ageing solutions to participate.

With this in mind, I hereby officially launch the “Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge” and would like to wish those who take part in the Challenge, every success. I also look forward to seeing the winning ideas and solutions incorporated into the future delivery of good quality housing to those who need it.

Calling all Meath West designers and innovators!

Action Plan for Housing, Active Retirement, Funding, Housing and Urban Renewal, Innovation, Meath, Rebuilding Ireland, Research, Research and Innovation, Skills, Wesmeath

Minister English launches the Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge

Today (31 January 2017) Damien English T.D., Minister for Housing and
Urban Renewal, launched the 2017 Homes for Smart Ageing Universal
Design Challenge. An initiative under the Rebuilding Ireland programme
(Action 2.19), the challenge aims to stimulate and encourage the
design and construction industries to be innovative in designing and
delivering housing solutions for older people.

Speaking at today’s launch, Minister English commented on the ageing
of Ireland’s population as representing one of the most significant
demographic and societal developments in the years ahead. He added
that, “with the number of people over the age of 65 expected to reach
1.4 million by 2041, the implications for public policy in areas such
as housing, health and urban and rural planning are considerable. This
challenge is aimed at harnessing novel and innovative ideas that will
improve the quality of life for older persons,in the context of
Rebuilding Ireland and the Programme of Actions for Smart Ageing.”

“To borrow a phrase, ‘we want to inspire people to think differently’
commented Ger Craddock, Chief Officer of the Centre for Excellence in
Universal Design. An expanding, ageing population, is a growing global
challenge, but one that can be tackled through new and innovative
thinking. We expect the talent in Ireland to demonstrate how simple
ideas can change people’s lives and benefit society as a whole.”

While primarily of interest to designers, the competition is open to
all. €100,000 worth of prizes is on offer, with five €10,000 awards
for commended entries after Round 1 and the grand prize of €50,000 for
the ultimate winner. The winning idea would be expected to make a
significant impact on Irish society, using universal design principles
to create products, services, solutions, and systems to improve the
quality of life for older persons in Ireland and ultimately, all of
us.  The winning entry should also be cost-effective, with the
potential for mainstreaming, in support of smart-ageing solutions, in
the areas of:

• Smart technologies in housing for older people, and/or;
• Adaptation of existing houses to meet the need of older people, and/or;
• Life-time communities.

The competition was launched in the Custom House today, 31 January,
and will be open for entries until the 13 March, 2017. All entries are
submitted online through the website,
www.homesforsmartageing-ud.com(link is external).

ENDS

About Rebuilding Ireland
Designed to accelerate housing supply in this country, Rebuilding
Ireland is tackling our country’s housing shortage. This action-driven
plan will result in a dramatic increase in the delivery of homes
nationwide. Ambitious and imaginative in its reach, and radical in its
approach, this plan will address the needs of homeless people and
families in emergency accommodation, accelerate the provision of
social housing, deliver more housing, utilise vacant homes and improve
the rental sector.

Backed by funding of €5.55 billion, Rebuilding Ireland is designed to
significantly increase the supply of social housing by 47,000, double
the output of overall housing to at least 25,000 homes per annum by
2021, service all tenure types (social, private and rental), and
tackle homelessness comprehensively. The wide-ranging plan seeks to
address all aspects of the housing system under Five Pillars:

• Address Homelessness
• Accelerate Social Housing
• Build More Homes
• Improve the Rental Sector
• Utilise Existing Housing

Rebuilding Ireland is available on www.rebuildingireland.ie(link is
external)  (link is external)
Follow us on Twitter for regular updates: @RebuildingIrl  #RebuildingIreland

About Universal Design
Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so
that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent
possible by all people, regardless of their age, size or disability.
This includes public places in the built environment such as
buildings, streets or spaces that the public have access to; products
and services provided in those places; and systems that are available
including information and communications technology (ICT).
(Disability Act, 2005)