Speech by Minister English
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Official opening of Leighlinbridge Housing Scheme
(Capital Assistance Scheme – 15 units and Communal Facility)
6th December, 2016
Good morning everyone. I was delighted to accept the kind invitation from my colleague Pat Deering T.D. to come here today to officially open this scheme at Leighlinbridge, and I sincerely thank you all for your warm welcome.
Visiting projects such as this one provides me with the opportunity to see the magnificent work being carried out locally in relation to the important area of housing. I understand this scheme provides 15 units of accommodation plus a communal facility with a coffee dock, relaxation area, laundry room and office. The funding provided by my Department includes €1.9m for the accommodation units and €112,500 for the communal facility. This does not include some €200,000 which I understand was provided through local fundraising, so it’s a great honour for me to be here to celebrate this combination of community drive and energy delivering on community need. This facility will allow people from the area to continue to live centrally within their own community. I am informed that the need for this accommodation was identified many years ago, which subsequently led to the formation of the Leighlinbridge Housing Association in 2006. I wish to specifically commend all the members of this Association along with the Chairman Michael Meaney.
This project is funded under the Capital Assistance Scheme, which the Government sees as an important mechanism for the delivery of social housing, as it supports sheltered housing projects around the country for people with specific categories of need. In conjunction with Leighlinbridge Housing Association, Carlow County Council, I’m glad to say, has been a great support for this project and I want to acknowledge the role of the Housing officials from the Council along with Eddie Nolan, the Clerk of Works. I am very much looking forward to viewing some of the new units and meeting with residents, once the official opening has been completed.
This Government understands the need for the construction of new social housing nationally to provide good quality housing into the future. Earlier this summer Rebuilding Ireland was published, an Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness. Over the period of the Plan, 47,000 homes will be delivered under the various social housing programmes, together with an expansion of the Housing Assistance Payment scheme nationwide. This delivery will be achieved through collaboration between local authorities, Approved Housing Bodies, the National Treasury Management Agency and the private sector.
The new Action Plan builds on the social housing targets and funding allocations that issued under the Social Housing Strategy to all local authorities in April of last year. Under the Social Housing Strategy over €1.5 billion in funding allocations was announced to support all local authorities to deliver social housing via a combination of building, buying and leasing schemes out to 2017.
At this point almost €680 million has been allocated for over 3,900 social housing new builds, turnkey developments and acquisitions. I am keen that local authorities advance these projects as soon as possible and have assured them that funding is available to fully support their efforts in this regard.
The approval of these projects across all local authority areas including Carlow, demonstrates the Government’s support for the provision of social housing for those who need it all across the country. The new Action Plan demonstrates our vision, and our ambition to work in tandem with local and central government and others to bring a real response to social housing need in Ireland. Not only is there now a clear plan, but there are also high levels of funding committed to support local authorities to deliver.
I anticipate a notable ramping up in terms of both construction spend and delivery over the next year, and the measures set out in Rebuilding Ireland, Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness will have a direct benefit in that regard.
The jobs that projects like this support are also an important consideration for me. The Government’s investment in Housing is estimated to support or create 29,000 jobs in construction. That is another advantage of undertaking locally-focussed housing projects; it means that the employment opportunities also stay local, and I’m glad to recognise the input of all the construction and tradespeople on this excellent project.
However, it should be remembered that schemes such as this one are about more than just building the houses. They are about building thriving sustainable communities. Projects like this one, which is excellently designed and well located, imbue a great sense of pride and confidence in communities. This is a place where people want to live.
In this regard I wish to acknowledge and commend the Architectural services of Paul Kehoe Architects, Dublin, Quantity Surveyors KSN Consultants, Dublin, Engineers Roughan & O’Donovan, also Dublin and LJM Construction from Dunlavin who have expertly constructed these houses.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all the residents of this facility the very best for the future in their new homes.