Minister Damien English introduces New Planning Regulations

Action Plan for Housing

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Housing and Urban Development, Damien English, T.D., today (8 February 2018) signed three new sets of exempted development regulations.

The Planning Act provides that the Minister may make regulations to provide that certain classes of development be exempted from the requirement to obtain planning permission, thereby streamlining and creating efficiencies in the planning system but also reducing the regulatory and administrative burden on those undertaking such works.

As required under the Planning Act, the regulations received a positive resolution from both Houses of the Oireachtas on 25 January 2018.

The new regulations now provide for the following exemptions:

  • development by Irish Water related to the provision of water services and the undertaking of normal day to day activities relating to same, such as maintenance type works,
  • the change of use, and any related works, relating to the conversion of vacant commercial premises – including “over the shop” type premises – for residential use, on foot of the commitment in Rebuilding Ireland in this regard, and
  • amending existing provisions relating to certain works by statutory undertakers in providing telecommunications services, to support the rollout of the National Broadband Plan and extended mobile phone coverage.

Minister English said “Following detailed engagement with the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government and with Oireachtas members last week, I am pleased to sign these regulations and bring the new planning provisions into force.”

“These are important regulations which are intended to benefit and have a positive impact on people’s everyday lives. For example, reliable mobile and broadband service across the country is essential in our modern lives and the regulations will assist in the accelerated roll-out of the National Broadband Plan and support the provision of enhanced mobile phone services, particularly in rural and remote areas. The regulations will also support Irish Water in the efficient delivery of the vital service that it provides and allow it to respond quickly in emergency situations to ensure the continued supply of essential water services”, he continued.

Minister English highlighted, “The regulations relating to the change of use of vacant buildings for residential purposes are vitally important and have three-fold benefits – firstly, facilitating the bringing on stream of urgently needed housing supply in high demand areas; secondly, maximising the use of vacant underutilised spaces; and thirdly, rejuvenating and breathing new life into inner-core urban areas in towns and cities. I hope that as many property owners of vacant premises around the country will utilise these provisions as soon as possible.”

The new regulations will be available on the Department’s website and on the electronic statute book.


Speech at Launch of Advanced Leasing Arrangements, Mont Clare Hotel

Action Plan for Housing



Good morning ladies and gentlemen.

I am delighted to be here this morning to officially launch the new enhanced arrangements for long term leasing of private property, to provide additional social housing homes. This important initiative is just one of a large number of actions being taken to implement Rebuilding Ireland, the Government’s Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness.

As I am sure you are aware, Rebuilding Ireland is the Government’s Plan to deal with the housing shortage in this country. Taken together, it comprises a €6 billion, multi-annual action plan, which seeks to increase the overall supply of new homes to 25,000 per annum by 2020; deliver an additional 50,000 social housing units in the period to 2021; and meet the housing needs of some 87,000 households through the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme.

Strong progress on the implementation of this plan is already being made. On the social housing construction front, we have a programme of works on 770 sites that will deliver over 12,300 new homes, with the number of schemes in the programme continuing to grow on a weekly basis.

Clearly, we want to see a greater emphasis on direct building of social housing than was envisaged originally under Rebuilding Ireland. In this regard, we will see almost 5,000 new social homes built in 2018, including 3,800 by local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs).

In addition to the established Local Authority and AHB direct-build programme, activity continues apace across a range of other measures. These include social housing homes through local authorities and AHBs; the Housing Assistance Payment scheme; and the Rental Accommodation Scheme.

Recognising that measures introduced to date are beginning to have an impact, and will have a greater impact in time, on 22 January my colleague Minister Murphy announced a further package of initiatives to help alleviate affordability pressures faced by households, particularly in areas of high housing demand and high accommodation costs. This included the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, along with an Affordable Purchase Scheme, and an Affordable Rental Scheme.

Background to Enhanced Leasing Scheme

It is among these broader efforts that the Enhanced Long Term Social Housing Leasing Scheme must be viewed. As the latest element of Rebuilding Ireland housing policy, I am delighted to launch the scheme this morning.

The enhancements made to the Leasing programme represent a strategic policy approach, signalled in Rebuilding Ireland, to harness the capacity of institutional investment, and the increasing activity in the wider construction market, in order to achieve the delivery of high quality social housing homes, in places where people want to live.

Over the course of Rebuilding Ireland, 10,000 new social homes are targeted for delivery using a leasing model. We don’t expect all of the 10,000 new units to be delivered using the new leasing arrangements but the Government is committed to providing the resources necessary to achieve our ambition in that context.

The existing Social Housing Current Expenditure Programme (SHCEP), administered by my Department, already provides a means whereby properties can be leased by Local Authorities from private providers. However, we would all acknowledge that there are limitations to the scheme as it currently exists, particularly if we are looking at targeted new build units and delivery at scale. It is for this reason that we been working on improvements to make the leasing scheme more attractive to private investors, who can provide social housing for leasing to local authorities on a larger scale. A core necessity as part of the development of these new arrangements is to ensure that the contracts that underpin the security of these units do not have a negative impact on the General Government Balance. In other words, that we are actively benefitting from the institutional investment in such a way that does not limit our ability to continue to invest in our local authority and approved housing body building programmes.

Officials from my Department, together with the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA), the Housing Agency, representatives of the local authorities, and their legal advisors Eversheds Sutherland Solicitors, have worked closely to finalise the details of the scheme. Through their work in bringing the initiative to the market and undertaking the market testing of outline provisions of the lease, the NDFA has established that there is a demand among potential investors for what is being proposed.

Objectives & Operation of the Scheme

The main objective of this scheme is to have about 2,500 units leased for social housing by the end of 2021.

It will mainly target newly built or yet to be built houses and apartments for leasing. Private or institutional investors will finance 100% of the cost of purchasing or constructing residential units and they will retain ownership of the property during and after the term of the lease. The lease will be for a period of 25 years.

The scheme will be governed by my Department and operated by Local Authorities. It will be funded through the Department’s Social Housing Current Expenditure Programme (SHCEP), which provides financial support to local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies for the long-term leasing of houses and apartments from private owners and developers. The Department will recoup to local authorities the cost of meeting the contractual costs of each leased unit. Properties made available under the scheme will be used to accommodate households from local authority waiting lists on a long term basis.

The Housing Agency will administer the scheme on behalf of the Department. It will assess proposals from prospective providers and their capacity to deliver the required number of properties. Following the assessment, the Agency will act as the point of contact between the provider and the local authorities. The Local Authorities will determine the suitability of the proposed properties, having regard to the standard of the properties, the requirement for social housing in the area, and the criteria set out in each authority’s Development Plans.

Providers will be invited to indicate their capacity to fund the purchase or construction of a minimum of 20 properties in a Local Authority area for the purposes of scheme. Alternatively, they may propose vacant properties in their existing portfolio if these units are either new to the housing market, or have not been leased or rented in the previous two years.

The Local Authority will retain their important role as landlord to the tenants, an area in which they have decades of experience. Tenants will be nominated by the appropriate Local Authority in accordance with their accepted allocation scheme.

The provider will be required to assist the Local Authority in managing the tenancy, and they may engage a property management company or Approved Housing Body to provide facilities management services to the tenants on their behalf.


The delivery of this project has involved the cooperation of a range of State bodies and agencies. The role of the NDFA as financial advisor to my Department in this work has been an important one. The Housing Agency has also had a major input into developing the scheme, in consultation with the local authorities. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their involvement and expertise in this process, as well as Eversheds Sutherland, and also my Department’s officials, for their work in bringing this scheme to fruition.

I believe that the changes being unveiled today in this Enhanced Leasing scheme will allow potential investors from the private sector to assist in the delivery of housing services and supports. The details of the scheme are now on the Housing Agency’s website which contains the Call for Proposals and the related legal documents. Jim Baneham, who is here today on behalf of the Agency, will give you the details in his presentation.

This initiative is another important policy instrument that will help us to meet our ambitious goals for improving the delivery of social housing as set out in Rebuilding Ireland.

Combined with other recently announced initiatives; the additional measures announced under Budget 2018; and those announced just last week; Rebuilding Ireland continues to provide a robust framework to address the housing and homelessness challenges we face.

Our focus will remain firmly on implementation and delivery to ensure that the range of objectives and targets set are achieved.

Once again, thank you all for coming, and I hope you find the material presented at this morning’s event informative.

Vacant shops could be turned into homes to tackle the housing shortage across Meath and Ireland – English

Action Plan for Housing, Agher, Ballinacree, Ballinlough, Ballivor, Bohermeen, Clonard, Collinstown, Delvin, Dromone, Enfield, Housing and Urban Renewal, Johnstown, Killyon, Longwood, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Oldcastle, Rebuilding Ireland, Trim, Wesmeath

Friday, 15th December 2017

Vacant shops could soon be turned into homes to help tackle the
housing shortage in Meath and Ireland.

This is the proposal of local Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal
and Meath West Fine Gael T.D. Damien English which was brought forward
to Government during the week so that vacant commercial premises can
be made into housing without the need for planning permission.

Minister English said: “These draft regulations, if approved by the
Oireachtas, will allow the conversion of certain vacant commercial
premises here in Meath such as empty retail units and “over the shop”
type spaces to homes without the need for planning permission.

“This will have the dual benefit of creating urgently needed housing
supply in high demand areas, while at the same time breathing new life
into our towns and urban areas- many of which have been adversely
affected by the economic downturn.

“Fine Gael in Government, and myself and Minister Murphy in our
Department are fully committed to bringing as many vacant properties
as possible back into use and maximising the use of existing

“These new regulations, brought forward by myself and my colleague
Minister Eoghan Murphy, will make it easier for property owners to
re-imagine the use of vacant and under-used buildings without having
to go through the planning process.

“These are the first of a series of measures being developed by my
Department to streamline the various regulatory requirements relating
to the conversion of vacant spaces for residential use”.

“We want to once again show how the planning system can be responsive
to current needs and demands, by removing the need for planning
consent where appropriate and thereby provide greater efficiencies in
the system.

“All elements of the three sets of proposals brought forward today
have the potential to have a very real and positive impact on the
people of Meath and beyond.

“The Joint Oireachtas Committee will discuss these proposals in early
2018 so that the new provisions can be brought into operation as soon
as possible” concluded Minister English.


Note to Editors:

The Planning Act provides that the Minister may make regulations to
provide that certain classes of development shall be exempted from the
requirement to obtain planning permission.  The three sets of draft
exempted development regulations now proposed relate to exemptions

Ø  development by Irish Water related to the provision of water
services and the undertaking of normal day to day activities relating
to same, such as maintenance type works,

Ø  the change of use, and any related works, relating to the
conversion of vacant commercial premises for residential use (subject
to certain limitations), on foot of the commitment in Rebuilding
Ireland in this regard, and

Ø  amending existing provisions relating to certain works by statutory
undertakers in providing telecommunications services, to support the
rollout of the National Broadband Plan and extended mobile phone

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:


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


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.


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
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
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.

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.

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.


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

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

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

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.”


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

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.

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, is external).


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 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)

50th Anniversary UCD Planning Seminar

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


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




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.


Speech to Strategy for the Rental Sector – Stakeholder Consultation Workshop

Action Plan for Housing, Budget 2017, Housing and Urban Renewal, Wesmeath

Strategy for the Rental Sector – Stakeholder Consultation Workshop

Welcome speech by Mr Damien English T.D.

Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal

20 October 2016. Morrison Hotel, Dublin 1


Good morning ladies and gentlemen, I would like to start by welcoming you and thanking you for joining Minister Coveney and myself this morning at this very important Stakeholder Consultation workshop on the development of a Strategy for the Rental Sector. 

Rebuilding Ireland and Rental Strategy

The Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness was launched in July 2016. Its vision is that to the greatest extent possible, every household in Ireland can access secure, good quality and affordable housing suited to its needs and located within sustainable communities. This is a vision that I fully support. The residential rental sector has a vital role to play in achieving this vision.

The residential rental sector is an essential component of the housing sector, and its vital role needs to be recognised and planned for. It has gone through considerable change over the last ten to fifteen years, doubling in size and providing long-term homes for more people.

This is why Rebuilding Ireland also commits to developing a real and meaningful strategy for the rental sector. This strategy which will be published by the end of the year, will lay out measures to address immediate issues affecting the supply, cost and accessibility of rental accommodation. It will also include measures to support the development of a viable and sustainable rental sector that can provide choice, quality, value and security for households and secure, attractive investment opportunities for rental providers.

Todays’ Stakeholder Forum

The purpose of todays’ event is to allow each of you as key stakeholders in this area to be provided with an opportunity to feed into the strategy and talk through the wider issues affecting the rental sector.  For example some of these are:

  • The growing numbers of families entering homelessness, often from the private rented sector
  • Rents are back at boom time levels;
  • The number of homes available to buy and rent is well below demand;
  • We are building less than half the homes we need and have done so for a number of years;
  • We have thousands of vacant houses and significant numbers of undeveloped sites, and,
  • Thousands of families, owner occupiers and landlords, are in mortgage arrears.

Round Table Discussion

As you signed in today you would have each been given an assigned table number, each table will be facilitated in the discussion around a range of issues by a moderator and a note taker. Key themes and questions have been assigned to each table and an hour and a half will be given to the discussion after which each moderator will be given 5 minutes to report back with the views of each table.

Today is not a negotiation among or with the different stakeholders, it is an opportunity to express and exchange opinions and to build understanding of the different needs and points of view. So while we are not trying to reach agreed positions on all the issues being discussed today it would be hoped that each table’s response would reflect a number of points of agreement and the key issues of ongoing debate. We have also assigned note takes to each table who will record a fair and accurate summary of the groups’ discussion; these notes will be collected by Department officials at the end of the session and will also be considered by working group tasked with assisting in the preparation of the strategy.

Written Consultation Process

While work has started on the development of the Strategy, this needs to be informed by the views and suggestions of as a wide range of groups and individuals as possible. I would like to invite you all to help inform this process by making a written submission. Following today’s event we will launch an on-line consultation guideline: this will provide you with the opportunity to make the written submission. The purpose of today’s discussions is to help inform those submissions. The document will be available on my Departments’ website or in hard copy, and submissions can be returned to my department up to Monday, November 7th to feed into the drafting process.


Thank you all for attending today and I wish to acknowledge the valuable contribution many of you present here today and the organisations you represent have already made. I hope you all have an interesting and engaging morning.

I will now hand over to my colleague Minister Simon Coveney to set the scene for our discussions today.

Budget 2017 will assist first time buyers to get on the property ladder & will increase housing supply

Action Plan for Housing, Budget 2017, Housing and Urban Renewal, Meath, Rebuilding Ireland, Wesmeath

Fine Gael Meath West TD, and Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal, Damien English, has said that Budget 2017 will assist first time buyers to get on the property ladder with a new measure designed to increase housing supply.

“Budget 2017 allocates significant funding of €1.2 billion for the Government’s housing action plan entitled, Rebuilding Ireland – an Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness’.

“An innovative measure in this plan, announced today as part of Budget 2017, is the help to buy scheme for first time buyers. This initiative is designed to help first time buyers get on the property ladder and to increase the supply of housing.

“The initiative will be available to first time buyers from 19th July 2016 to the end of 2019 and is designed to encourage the building of new houses in that time frame. It will involve a 5% tax rebate for first time buyers on new builds up to €400,000.  A maximum rebate of €20,000 will apply to properties from €400,000 to €600,000, and no rebate will be available for properties above €600,000.

“In order to ensure that this initiative increases supply without overheating the market, it must be limited to those buying newly built homes. In this way it will stimulate construction and increase supply, which should make housing more affordable for everyone. Fianna Fáil, in an effort to find something to criticise, assert that this initiative should not be restricted to new builds. It’s the same old Fianna Fáil with their reckless approach to housing and the economy. Extending such a tax relief to second hand housing, would only serve to push up prices, overheat the market and lead to another disastrous housing bubble.

“A number of other initiatives announced today will also help to increase housing supply. For example, the Living City Initiative will be expanded by removing the maximum floor area restriction and removing the requirement for properties to have been previously used as residential dwellings to avail of support. Qualification thresholds are also being changed to expand the initiative. The income ceiling on the Rent a Room scheme will increase, allowing home owners to rent out additional rooms while remaining within the scope of the scheme. It is thought this will help to increase the numbers of rooms available to third level students.

“The Repair and Leasing Initiative will allow local authorities to provide financial assistance to property owners to bring vacant properties up to standard which can then be leased for social housing.  Capital provision of €6 million in 2017 will deliver 150 units under this new initiative. The Buy and Renew initiative will support local authorities and approved housing bodies to purchase private housing units in need of remediation, renew them and make them available for social housing use.  An initial capital provision of €25 million will be available for this initiative in 2017. 800 vacant Local Authority units will also be brought back into use in 2017.

“According to Minister Coveney, the investment provided by the Exchequer and by local authorities will allow us to meet the housing needs of 21,050 families in 2017. In addition, local authorities will fund a range of housing services to the value of €92 million from surplus Local Property Tax receipts, bringing the total housing provision in 2017 to almost €1.3 billion.  We are also providing an increase of €28 million in funding for homeless services. This is an increase of 40% on last year, and includes the provision of emergency supports for rough sleepers and ending reliance on the use of hotels for homeless families by mid-2017.

“Budget 2017 is another stepping stone in Fine Gael’s plan to use a strong economy to help make people’s lives better.  Thanks to the careful economic management of recent years we now have the resources to target investments in key public services that will make a real difference to people’s lives. Meeting the housing needs of our people is a major part of this plan.”