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 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)

English says Meath will be evaluated in early 2017 as a Rental Pressure Zone under new legislation

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

Tuesday, 20th December 2016

Local Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal Damien English T.D. has
today (Monday) stated that the new legislation for Rental Pressure
Zones, as part of the Government's new Rental Strategy, provides a
pathway for dealing with rent issues in parts of Meath.  This had not
been the case until the Government's new Rental Strategy launched last
week by Ministers English and Coveney.  Parts of Meath will be
examined once the final 2016 rental figures are available to the
Rental Tenancies Board.

"Until our new Rental Strategy, there was no pathway for dealing with
rental pressures in Meath.  This had to change, especially with its
proximity to the pressurised Dublin market.  By seeking to deal with
the Dublin market, and putting down in legislation a process for
commuter Counties like Meath, the Government is trying to help renters
in Meath and nationally" stated Minister English.

Minister English complimented all the stakeholders who took part in the
process of formulating this rental strategy. "In July of this year, given
the importance of striking the right balance for renters and landlords,
Government reached out and received hundreds of submissions by interested
parties to feed into the publication of out rental strategy and this important
legislation relating to its publication"

"Ultimately what we really want and need is a construction sector
building high quality homes in the places where they are needed for
people to buy.  That will be my priority locally and nationally as a
Meath T.D. and as a Minister working for all the country" concluded
Minister English.

Notes to Editor:

Ministers English and Coveney have instructed the Rental Tenancies
Board to accelerate its work so that it can put together the more
detailed picture of conditions in counties and urban areas at a
smaller geographical area that better captures pressures. With a more
detailed local area assessment, it is more likely that the real
pressure parts of counties around Dublin for example, will meet the
criteria sooner.

The following commuter areas and cities are being prioritised for assessment:

Meath,
Kildare,
Wicklow,
Louth,
Areas contiguous to Cork City,
Galway City,
Limerick City and
Waterford City.

The Director of the RTB will be requested to make it an absolute
priority to ensure that data on an area specific basis is available
for all of these areas by end February to allow the designation
process occur where the qualifying criteria have been met. Minister
Coveney has also instructed the RTB to progress this work on a rolling
basis so that where data is available for the first areas in January,
the process can get underway. The RTB will be given extra resources it
needs to get this done.

The Government has also agreed proposals to shorten the timeframe for
the overall designation process will help in ensuring that tenants in
pressure areas will get the benefit of protection from the rent
pressure zone designation without delay.

ENDS

‘Interpreting Ireland through Writers, Historians and Local Collections.’

Heritage, Housing and Urban Renewal, Innovation, Library Services, Meath, Navan, Research, Research and Innovation, Science, Speeches, Wesmeath

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Speech by Mr. Damien English, T.D.,Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal

Writing Ireland:

Interpreting Ireland through Writers, Historians and Local Collections.’

Conference 2016

Main Conference Hall, Dublin Castle, 6th December 4pm

Good afternoon everyone.

I am delighted as Minister to represent the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government at today’s Conference:

Interpreting Ireland through Writers, Historians and Local Collections.

Due to other Government business I have missed the many contributions from today’s speakers including:

  • national figures from print and broadcast media,
  • national authorities on history,
  • local history and literature from the academic sector
  • and prominent figures in the local authority library sector.

The importance of collecting cultural memory, the impact of the national collections on the local, and the local on the national, has been examined; this is an area of great interest to the State and its people.

Local history provides insights on how life in Ireland in the past evolved in a variety of settings, both urban and rural.

Future generations will one day mine these treasures, to better understand their heritage and culture.

The preserved history and research within the collections, will allow them glimpses into the diverse, interacting worlds that are the basis of the Irish historical experience.

Even the unique regional diversity of Irish society in the past will be preserved within these collections.

I hope the experience of the Conference has been an exciting and thought provoking event for you.

The influence of politics, historians and writers has been explored.

The value and opportunities for the public provided by the national collections and the local studies collections in public libraries has all been debated, challenged and refreshed.

Indeed this Conference is a very fitting addition to the great number of really worthwhile events which have been held throughout this year as part of the Ireland 2016 celebrations.

I know that in many cases, the entire Ireland 2016 programme of events in the local authority was co-ordinated by the County or City Librarian and their library teams.

I have had many interactions in my current role with the librarians and library staff.

Their dedication and passion for the service they provide is an inspiration to me.

The fantastic showcase, including the Dublin City 1916 Exhibition bus, has been provided by many of the public library services from across the country and made available throughout the day for everyone to explore and enjoy.

Such a showcase demonstrates the work undertaken by the public libraries on collecting and making available information and resources on Irish history and writers as an on-going practice and also particularly on the commemoration of 1916.

2016 is now drawing to a close, but the Decade of Centenaries is of course on-going.

The local place is becoming more and more important as we move towards events such as the War of Independence, which directly impacted on and still resonate in the towns, villages and parishes across the country.

In light of this, the role of the local collections will come even more to the fore in the coming years.

Collecting and making available resources for the history and culture of communities and places is one of the key roles of the public library.

All thirty-one local authorities have local studies collections as part of the library service and provide a dedicated local studies service for the public.

Local studies collections are like an ‘Aladdin’s cave’, rich and abundant with treasures.

These hold the precious gems of our culture, and the list is astounding; such as:

  • manuscripts of local interest,
  • collections of local and national newspapers and journals;
  • iconic photographs and other visual materials;
  • ancient maps, church records; estate records;
  • and administrative records such as ‘of the Poor Law Union’.

Public libraries not only collect original source materials, but also seek to acquire copies of materials held in national and other repositories, making it easier for users to access these materials.

Examples of these are:

  • the Primary Valuation (Griffiths’);
  • the Tithe Applotment Books,
  • and the Census returns.

There is no doubt that the existence of excellent local studies collections, and the support and expert advice offered by local studies librarians, has contributed greatly to the interest growth and development in local history publications.

Public libraries also collect these local publications, ensuring that knowledge gained about a locality is widely shared, enabling successive researchers build upon previous work.

The socio-economic development of Ireland in recent decades has led to huge changes in the make-up of even the most rural communities.

There are now large numbers of people living in areas with which they have no personal or family connections.

In addition, housing and other developments have changed both the infrastructural and cultural landscapes of many communities, leading to changes in how local people interact with their own localities.

In such an environment, local studies are important as a means of fostering a sense of place and belonging – crucial to the well-being of individuals and communities alike – is more important than ever.

Public library collections are fundamental to the pursuit and enjoyment of local studies. Of course, as you have heard, there are variations in the nature and extent of collections across the country.

The question of providing and managing access, physical and digital, has both enormous benefits and some extra challenges.

The need is, of course, to balance providing the widest possible access to the public with the preservation of the materials for the future.

There is the need to ensure that copies, particularly digital ones, cannot be exploited inappropriately.

It is a delicate balance.

But the overriding requirement and the basis on which the public libraries operate is to make as many of the resources as accessible to as many people as possible.

I know, from my constituent’s exploration of the local studies collection in both the Meath and Westmeath library services, the importance of being able to research and find information on family and place through the centuries, through local sources in our local area.

The development of local studies, collections and enhancing access to these formed part of the public libraries strategy 2013 to 2017, Opportunities for All.

As my Department now starts to plan for a new strategy, it is important that we build on the developments achieved in the last five years and that we incorporate the learnings from today to help shape the future of local studies.

I look forward to hearing a full overview of Today’s proceedings.

I look forward also to your input next year into the framing of the successor to ‘Opportunities for All’ – A new strategy for Public Libraries in Ireland.

We are in a wonderful position to learn from the past and plan for the future so that we can do something positive for the Library Services in Ireland.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you again for inviting me today, congratulations on an excellent conference and I wish you all the very best for the festive season and the New Year in 2017.

ENDS

50th Anniversary UCD Planning Seminar

Action Plan for Housing, Education, Housing and Urban Renewal, Speeches

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Address by Mr Damien English, T.D., Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal

On the occasion of the UCD Planning Seminar: “Reflections: The Past, Present and Future of Planning”

UCD, Dublin

 

 

Introduction

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Good afternoon.

As Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal I am delighted to join you for the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of UCD’s Planning School.

On behalf of the Government, I wish to acknowledge the important contribution that the School has made to the development of the planning profession and to shaping the overall learning process of planning since 1966.

It is right that we celebrate that contribution and discuss how it might be expanded, developed and improved for the future.

The well-being and strength of our cities and towns has increasingly become the barometer for the health and strength of our economy, and of our wider society – all of which is possible through proper professional planning.

I would like to reiterate the sentiments of my colleague, Minister Simon Coveney;

I believe in the importance of having vibrant and dynamic urban and rural places. I believe in the need to plan for the longer term interests of both.

However, we must reflect on the present fact that just over 12,600 housing units were completed last year, almost half were “one off” houses.

We need to be building somewhere in the region of 25,000 units for the future.

These houses are principally needed in our key cities, our towns and our villages.

They are needed to meet future and evolving household formations, economic and demographic patterns.

Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness

‘Rebuilding Ireland – an Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness’ sets out a holistic response to the overall housing system as a fundamental building block of our urban and rural policy.

The Plan provides over 80 practical and readily implementable solutions that aim to increase the annual housing supply to 25,000 units per annum by 2021.

The Plan will enhance the stock of social houses by 47,000 units in the same period.

To back this up, a massive €5.5 billion, yes €5.5billion, is available for future housing and infrastructure in Ireland.

Planning plays a major part in setting the conditions for housing delivery and accordingly Rebuilding Ireland aims to support and develop the planning process.

Urban Renewal and Regeneration

The impression might be that the Action Plan is all about building new houses.

But the Plan also has an emphasis on making the best use of our existing buildings and existing places.

To this end I am leading an Urban Renewal Working Group which

  • Will drive forward these and wider proposals;
  • It will complement the existing regeneration programme;
  • It will further develop projects under the Social Housing Capital and Social Programmes across local authorities.

Action 5.1 of the Plan also undertakes to develop a National Vacant Housing Re-Use Strategy by 2017.

The Housing Agency, will lead the responsibility for co-ordinating the development of the Strategy.

It has established a working group to inform the Strategy, and includes senior representatives from my Department and from the Local Authorities. Its first meeting was held in September and work is progressing.

My Department and the Housing Agency are liaising with Local Authorities and with the Central Statistics Office in order to obtain a better understanding of the numbers, characteristics and reasons why homes are vacant.

This understanding will also assist Government in:

  • Introducing a new Town and Village Renewal scheme; a similar scheme to the ‘Living City Initiative’ to regenerate urban centres and villages (Year 1 action)
  • Exempting the use of under-utilised or vacant areas over ground-floor premises in urban areas, from “change of use” requirements, for both residential and commercial use (Year 1 action)
  • Reforming the Derelict Sites Act to tackle the under-use and hoarding of derelict land by the State, semi-State and private sectors;
  • Commencing the new “Buy and Renew” initiative with an initial capital provision of €25 million in 2017, and
  • Rolling out the new Repair and Leasing Scheme (RLS) for which I have secured €140m over the next five years.

National Planning Framework

While our housing needs must get priority attention, I recognise the value of planning for the future.

This is why I, and my Department, are committed to the development of a new National Planning Framework (NPF) to succeed the National Spatial Strategy.

The National Planning Framework ‘Ireland 2040’ will be different from its predecessor in the following ways:

  • It will be a framework not in sole ownership of Government.
  • It will, as provided for under statutory legislation, and as recommended by the Mahon Tribunal, be approved by Dáil Éireann.
  • It will be the definitive statement on the future strategic development of our remarkable country.
  • The NPF will be more strategic and more concise than its predecessor.

There will be three new Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies developed alongside the NPF.

They will be developed by the three Regional Assemblies representing the local government sector and co-ordinating their local economic development and planning functions.

I believe that the National Planning Framework will address the key aspects of planning for the future in Ireland. It needs to:

  • Identify where and how our housing needs are best met;
  • Identify our Regions key assets for economic development and job-creation;
  • Specify the location, delivery and funding of critical infrastructure;
  • Enhance the role of planning our sustainability, our greenness;

To achieve these we need to:

  • Find the right balance between the complementary but contrasting strengths of our regions; and
  • Strengthen the opportunities for an island approach to our development;
  • And integrate the marine and terrestrial planning processes.

We will have a realistic national conversation about the potential of our places, both urban and rural, recognising that a National Planning Framework will mean hard choices and avoiding the “one for everyone in the audience” approach.

In a globalised world, quality of ‘place’ really matters.

You as Planners know more about making a place work than any other profession.

So I look forward to working together with UCD Planning School in forming both policy and urban development practice so that we create better urban places for all.

Learning From The Past

As we all know, we had dark times in our recent planning past.

Let us not forget the enormous work undertaken and the huge financial cost associated with the Mahon Tribunal, its reports and recommendations.

I am happy that the implementation of the recommendations are ongoing, and includes legislation such as the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill presently at second stage in the Dáil.

As previous Ministers have stated and I certainly have no difficulty with re-stating today, abuses of the planning process are not acceptable and are not victim-less crimes.

By putting the wrong developments in the wrong places, at the wrong time, we are condemning future generations to live with the mistakes of the past.

That is why this Government is fully committed to the establishment of the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) through the Planning and Development Bill.

Looking to the Future

To conclude, this evenings 50th anniversary celebrations will reflect on the past, present and future of Irish Planning.

I think we will all agree that while there are challenging times ahead for planning in Ireland. They will be interesting times, if you are a Planner I am sure they will be exciting times.

Times which will require a better vision, a better commitment and better technical skills of the Professional Planner to address the many challenges we face together.

Within my own Department, it is fitting that 50 years after the establishment of this School that for the first time, we have the word “Planning” in our title.

I am proud to be a Minister in the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government; one that reflects a newly re-constituted and expanded planning capability and function.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe that, having come through the past, we are witnessing a new and golden era for planning and professional planners in Ireland.

We now know what didn’t work. We know what does work and with proper professional planning we know what will work.

There is now a remarkable opportunity to shape the future of our country through planning.

Ultimately, I believe that Planning is about bringing the future into the present so we can do something about it.

Or as Abraham Lincoln said – “The best way to predict the future is to create it”. Let us now do this together.

Finally, congratulations again to University College Dublin and to the Planning School.

I salute you for the past 50 years of your work; I look forward to working with you during the next 50 years as you play a dynamic part in the planning of Ireland’s future.

Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, Thank You.

ENDS.

Speech to Grand Final of the Soapbox Competition

Education, Housing and Urban Renewal

8th November 2016

‘The EU: United in Diversity’

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  • I am delighted to be here today on this the fifth year of the Europe Direct Information Centres’ Soapbox Competition Final.
  • Going from strength to strength, this magnificent initiative – fostered and supported most generously by the European Commission.
  • With its origins in the turn of the last century, the soapbox is evocative of ‘Speakers Corner’ in Hyde Park, London.
  • It provides citizens from every community a fundamental opportunity to have their say on EU affairs.
  • This is a key priority of the European Union and it strongly supports the principle behind the EU motto, ‘United in Diversity’.
  • United in Diversity signifies how Europeans have come together, through the EU, to work for peace and prosperity, while at the same time being enriched by Europe’s many different cultures, traditions and languages.
  • Recent events such as the refugee crisis and of course, Brexit, make the motto for today’s motion a burning topic for debate. And it has been keenly debated up and down the country at the eight regional finals.
  • The competition has drawn more than 80 participants of all ages, backgrounds and stages in life. The very talented finalists we will hear today have without doubt earned their place in this Grand Final.
  • I expect we will hear compelling and passionate arguments both for and against the topic. I do not envy the distinguished judges their difficult task of choosing the overall winners!
  • But before we launch into the debate, I would like to take a moment or two to say a few words on the role of the European Direct Information Centres and our library service.
  • Our Europe Direct Information Centres provide a vital link between the European Commission and Irish citizens.
  • They provide important information and essential advice about the European Union’s policies and provide space for local and regional debate about the EU.
  • Their events are purposely hosted to promote a greater knowledge and appreciation of the opportunities for work, study and travel in the EU. And celebrate the diversity of cultures within the 28 Member States.
  • Most importantly, they are not a one-way communication channel; they offer the opportunity for everyone to send their observations and views back to the European Union institutions themselves.
  • This critical link is facilitated through the eight Europe Direct Information Centres across the country, managed by Libraries Development in the Local Government Management Agency.
  • They are ideally placed to reach the heart of the community.
  • Located in public libraries, they stretch from, Letterkenny to Mallow, and from Dundalk to Waterford. There are dual centres in Donegal – Letterkenny and the Irish language centre in Gaoth Dobhair. And also in Galway, in Ballinasloe and Carraroe.
  • The Centres offer additional services within the libraries. Ranging from advice on citizens’ rights, work and study in the EU and opportunities for entrepreneurs and SMEs within the EU.
  • Indeed, our libraries are the default source of assistance when looking for information about public and government information, making them particularly suited as channels for EU communications.
  • As an important and valued civic space for the community to learn, meet and explore its treasures, our libraries are more popular than ever.
  • Continuously evolving to meet the needs of a changing population, libraries offer access to a vast range of on line services, information and opportunity to develop and fulfil creativity.
  • Since January 2016 membership is free to everyone. Last year alone, there were over 17 million visits made to public libraries, an increase of 20% since 2008.
  • Key to this popularity is the excellent service and positive message generated by Library staff whose interest and genuine support in their members needs is most evident.
  • Returning to today’s event, the Soapbox Competition is an important annual event. It raises awareness locally and nationally on issues topical in Europe.
  • Indeed, it is the perfect vehicle to showcase our proud tradition of public speaking here in Ireland.
  • So, without any further delay, it is my great pleasure to open the Europe Direct Soapbox Final 2016, The EU: United in Diversity.
  • And, I wish all of the contestants the very best of luck.

ENDS