Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster TD has again raised the matter of council landbanks in County Louth in the Dáil. Questioning Damien English TD, Minister of State in the Department of Housing, she asked whether the Minister’s department had completed collating the data for the landbanks available for housing and criticised the lack of progress in delivering housing for the people of Louth.
Deputy Munster said:
“The situation in County Louth is shocking, and given the scale of the housing crisis I am sure that is replicated right across the State. There are almost 4,000 people on the housing waiting list in County Louth, many of whom have been waiting more than nine years to be housed. The number of applicants on the housing waiting lists exceeds the entire supply of council-owned housing stock in County Louth, which is a shocking statistic to bring to the attention of the House.”
“Meanwhile, there are 54 acres of council-zoned landbanks throughout the county on which Louth County Council pays €3 million a year in interest only for the loans. Citizens are deprived of vital services and amenities because the council must pay such an amount in interest, while the land lies idle and barren as not a single house has yet been built.”
Deputy Munster also criticised the government’s slow progress in rolling out a proper social housing scheme, 8 months on from the launch of the Rebuilding Ireland document.
“We are now over eight months on from the launch of Rebuilding Ireland, and the government has still not completed the mapping of the local authority landbanks. This should have been completed a long time ago, long before the publication of Rebuilding Ireland. It beggars belief that in the middle of a housing crisis the Minister had not ascertained what land belonged to local authorities across the State.”
“The Minister of State indicated there are 26 different projects but only six are being done by the local authority. The rest are from public-private partnerships and approved housing bodies. With the six developments, there will be a total of 123 homes over the next two to three years. There are 4,000 people on the housing list.
“Of those 123 homes, 20 have an unknown date of completion, seven are regeneration projects and 24 come from the acquisition of vacant units. There are three renovations included in that figure.”
“The government seems to be saying that Louth should be happy enough with 123 houses, with only a certain number being newly built, over the next three to four years, in the middle of a housing emergency.”
“It is clear as a bell that the Government’s entire policy to solve the housing crisis is developer-led and developer-driven and completely ineffective”.