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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 355-380
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Horse Sport Ireland
 Header Item Sports Facilities
 Header Item Departmental Advertising
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Rights of Way
 Header Item Planning Guidelines
 Header Item Planning Investigations
 Header Item National Planning Framework
 Header Item Home Loan Scheme
 Header Item Housing Policy
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Housing Assistance Payment
 Header Item Agriculture Schemes
 Header Item Land Development Agency
 Header Item Local Authority Functions
 Header Item Irish Water
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing
 Header Item Architects Register

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1005 No. 1
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 114 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 355-380

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 355. Deputy Cathal Crowe Information on Cathal Crowe Zoom on Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin if she will consider emergency financial support for a castle (details supplied) County Clare. [13450/21]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin The July Stimulus and Budget 2021 provided a significant package of tax and fiscal measures to build the resilience of the economy and to help vulnerable but viable businesses across all sectors including the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) as well as the ReStart grants and tax warehousing provisions.

Most recently, Fáilte Ireland launched the Tourism Business Continuity Scheme, which will provide support to providers of?certain?tourism services, including visitor attractions, who have been unable to qualify for assistance under the Government's Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS). It is designed to help?these?tourism businesses offset their fixed costs incurred last year and support them to continue operating through 2021.?

I have asked Fáilte Ireland to examine this case and to make contact with them in regard to options for support.

Horse Sport Ireland

 356. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin her views on matters raised (details supplied) in relation to the proposed move by Horse Sport Ireland to a new centre of excellence in Greenogue, County Dublin. [13497/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Jack Chambers): Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers National Governing Bodies of Sport such as Horse Sport Ireland are independent, autonomous bodies and are responsible for their own operational arrangements and procedures for their sports. The decision by Horse Sport Ireland regarding the relocation of its premises is entirely a matter for Horse Sport Ireland.

I understand that both the Minister and Minister of State for Agriculture, Food and the Marine have engaged with Horse Sport Ireland on this matter.

  Question No. 357 answered with Question No. 331.

Sports Facilities

 358. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a club (details supplied) does not have a running track or basic facilities; if the matter will be examined in view of the fact that the area has a fast growing population and a growing need for this facility; the supports that are available to develop this facility; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13531/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Jack Chambers): Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers The Sports Capital and Equipment Programme is the primary vehicle for Government support for the development of sports and physical recreation facilities and the purchase of non-personal sports equipment throughout the country.

It is open to any organisation with a suitable project to apply for funding. While the 2020 round of the programme closed for applications on the 1st March, it is my intention to advertise a future round of the programme as soon as possible after the assessment process and allocation process is complete. I note that the organisation referred to by the Deputy has registered with my Department for the programme and the designated club contact will be informed when the next round is open for applications.

Departmental Advertising

 359. Deputy Paul Kehoe Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin the amount spent across her Department on advertising on Covid-19 by month and by media outlet (details supplied) from 1 March 2020 to 1 March 2021. [13568/21]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin I have been informed by officials in my Department that no funding has been allocated for advertising relating to Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. My Department is actively engaged in delivering Covid-19 communications with the public and with stakeholders through various channels. This work is carried out in-house by the communications team and other teams within the Department. As part of its policy response to the crisis, my Department has supported a range of measures to provide for content which would normally be presented to live audiences, to be made available online.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 360. Deputy Darren O'Rourke Information on Darren O'Rourke Zoom on Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the rules under level 5 restrictions for a house that has been partially built and has no roof and is therefore exposed to the elements; if the roof can be completed under level 5 restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13163/21]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The Government announced that additional public health restrictions would apply under Level 5 of the Plan for Living with COVID-19 on 6 January 2021. The additional restrictions required all construction activity to cease from 6pm on Friday 8 January, with a number of exceptions. These measures are set out in The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No. 10) Regulations 2020 (as amended).

With regard to private housing development, the Regulations provide that housing and construction works ongoing on 8 January could continue where the works required to render the property capable of occupation were scheduled for completion by 31 January 2021. The Regulations also provide for the supply and delivery of essential or emergency maintenance and repair services to businesses and homes (including electrical, gas, oil, plumbing, glazing and roofing services) on an emergency call-out basis.

On 23 February, the Government announced that the current level 5 restrictions will remain in place until 5 April 2021, when the easing of restrictions relating to construction will be considered.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 361. Deputy Jackie Cahill Information on Jackie Cahill Zoom on Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien if a company (details supplied) with annual local authority rates bill in excess of €100,000 can be granted a waiver on fees in view of Covid-19 related pressures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13320/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Peter Burke): Information on Peter Burke Zoom on Peter Burke Given the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and the associated public health restrictions, and in order to continue supporting ratepayers and local authorities, the Government recently announced that the commercial rates waiver put in place for the first quarter of 2021 will be extended to the second quarter; it applies to businesses most seriously affected by ongoing restrictions.

The 2021 waiver is necessarily more targeted than was the case with the nine month waiver in 2020. Automatic eligibility is extended to retail, hospitality including hotels, pubs and restaurants, leisure and entertainment, personal services such as hairdressers and barbers, health services and various other categories. In recognition of the fact that there may be ratepayers excluded from the waiver that were severely impacted by the pandemic, it includes a provision that ratepayers not automatically eligible may engage directly with their local authorities, to demonstrate serious financial impact. In such circumstances certain ratepayers, that are not automatically eligible, may also qualify. These applications will be reviewed by local authorities on a case by case basis.

Rights of Way

 362. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien if he will extend the November deadline for the registration of rights of way with the Land Registry in view of the fact that many of the technical engineering and legal staff required for the registration of such rights of way are not in a position to do this work due to the present restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13454/21]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien There appears to be a misapprehension regarding the dates for registering rights of ways acquired by prescription on foot of amendments made by Parts 12 and 13 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 to the provisions relating to acquisition of easements and profits by prescription contained in Part 8 of the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009.

  I understand from the Property Registration Authority (PRA) that the following is the position:

  1. The extension of the transitional period originally prescribed by Section 38(b) of the 2009 Act (3 years) by the aforementioned 2011 Act (extending the period to 12 years) relates simply to the period when a claim to a prescriptive right can be made by reliance on the 'old' law replaced by the 2009 Act. From 2021, reliance must be made on the 'new' law introduced by the 2009 Act; in particular, reliance must be made on the new single and shorter period of 12 years. There is no question of a cut-off point occurring in 2021 when a claim to a prescriptive right can no longer be made. All that changes in 2021 is the basis on which the prescriptive right can be claimed.

  2. The new procedure for registration of a prescriptive right introduced by Section 41 of the 2011 Act is not subject to a time limit. It is a permanent procedure and, in particular, does not cease to be available in 2021. The only change which occurs in 2021 is the basis on which an application must be made to the PRA. As pointed out in (1) above, from 2021, the application will have to be grounded on the 'new' law introduced by the 2009 Act and reliance on the 'old' law repealed by that Act will cease to be possible.

  This procedure is only for easements (including rights of way) acquired by prescription. If all parties agree to the registration of an easement, an application should be made by lodging the appropriate Deed of Grant.

Finally, a Practice Direction Easements and Profits à Prendre Acquired by Prescription under Section 49A   is available on the PRA’s website (www.prai.ie) that covers the process relating to the registration of prescriptive easements.

Planning Guidelines

 363. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the status of the working group on rural planning guidelines in his Department; and when revised guidance on the issue of rural planning will be provided to local authorities that are revising their development plans. [12475/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Peter Burke): Information on Peter Burke Zoom on Peter Burke Under the Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Sustainable Rural Housing 2005, planning authorities are required to frame the planning policies in their development plans in a balanced and measured way that ensures the housing needs of rural communities are met, while avoiding excessive urban-generated housing.

A working group was established to review and, where necessary, recommend changes to the 2005 Guidelines and this group met on five occasions between May 2017 and January 2019. During this period, in 2018, the National Planning Framework (the NPF) was published and provides an important strategic basis for interpreting the 2005 Guidelines. National Policy Objective (NPO) 15 of the NPF fully supports the concept of the sustainable development of rural areas by encouraging growth and arresting decline in areas that have experienced low population growth or decline in recent decades, while simultaneously indicating the need to manage certain areas around cities and towns.

Work is current underway in preparation of an update of the 2005 Sustainable Rural Housing Guidelines for planning authorities, which were issued under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended). I expect to receive an initial draft guidelines document shortly. Given the complexity of the issues involved, the need for environmental assessment and both internal and external consultation, I would expect draft updated guidelines to be available in Q2 2021.

My Department communicated to planning authorities (Circular letter PL 2/2017) on 31 May 2017, advising that the existing 2005 Guidelines remain in place until advised otherwise by the Department and this remains valid.

Planning Investigations

 364. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien when he plans to publish the report by his Department into allegations of planning irregularities in County Donegal. [12476/21]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I will be examining the report, entitled 'A Review Into Certain Planning Matters in Respect of Donegal County Council', by Mr. Rory Mulcahy S.C., and will bring this matter to Government for consideration in due course.

In this regard, the decisions of the Commissioner for Environmental Information (CEI/18/0019) of 13 February 2019 and the Information Commissioner (OIC-59426-Q8D7T8) of 27 February 2020 in relation to requests to publish this report will also be taken into account. Both decisions are publicly available on those bodies' websites.

National Planning Framework

 365. Deputy Darren O'Rourke Information on Darren O'Rourke Zoom on Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the way the national planning framework policy objective (details supplied) is being delivered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12481/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Peter Burke): Information on Peter Burke Zoom on Peter Burke The identification and implementation of greenbelts and green spaces at a regional and city scale is a matter for regional assemblies and local authorities, through the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (including Metropolitan Area Spatial Plans) and City/County Development Plans. Guidance in relation to provision and design of open space at the local level is set out in the Sustainable Residential Development in Urban Areas – Guidelines for Planning Authorities published by my Department in 2009 (and supplemented by the Urban Design Manual also published by my Department in 2009).

My Department is currently working towards developing detailed guidelines in relation to sustainable settlement and best practice urban design, which will incorporate the 2009 Guidelines and Manual. The proposed sustainable settlement guidance will seek to address key issues in relation to the creation of an accessible and interconnected network of open space which responds to natural features and provides a range of active and passive spaces to support the development of sustainable and amenable neighbourhoods that promote a high quality of life for its residents.

The Guidelines will further underpin and support the preparation of statutory development plans by planning authority undertaken in accordance with sections 9-13 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000 (as amended). Specifically Section 10(2) of the Act and the First Schedule thereto provides that a development plan shall include objectives for wide range of issues that will support the achievement of NPO 62.

Home Loan Scheme

 366. Deputy Martin Browne Information on Martin Browne Zoom on Martin Browne asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary contacted his office regarding a Rebuilding Ireland home loan application; and if he will ensure they are not excluded from same due to their medical history. [12500/21]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The local authority mortgage protection insurance (MPI) scheme applies to all house purchase loans approved by local authorities since 1 July 1986, including the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan introduced on 1 February 2018. It is an important safeguard for both applicants and lenders.

One of the conditions of the MPI scheme, which is a group policy, is that it is obligatory for all local authority borrowers who meet the eligibility criteria to join the scheme. Altering any conditions of the MPI Scheme could have negative impacts and increase the cost for all existing borrowers. A local authority housing loan applicant who is not eligible for the local authority MPI scheme must source a suitable comparable individual MPI policy from the market.

As Minister, I am statutorily precluded from intervening in relation to individual cases such as this.

Housing Policy

 367. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien when the new national implementation plan for housing first will be published given that the current plan runs from 2018-2021; if increased targets will be put in place; if the associated funding for local authorities will be put in place; his plans to ensure the roll-out of housing first to each local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12519/21]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien Housing First enables homeless individuals with high levels of complex needs to obtain permanent secure accommodation with the provision of intensive housing and health supports to help them maintain their tenancies.

The National Implementation Plan for Housing First, published in September 2018, which puts the programme on a national footing, is designed to provide this response, by delivering permanent housing solutions and associated supports for rough sleepers and long-term users of emergency accommodation. It extends the delivery of Housing First nationally, with the introduction of targets for each local authority. The Plan includes an overall target of 663 tenancies in the period 2018-2021. The implementation of the Plan is a joint initiative of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the Department of Health, the HSE and the local authorities.

In line with the National Implementation Plan, Housing First is being delivered on a regional basis by the local authorities and the HSE. Contracts for the delivery of services have been put in place in each of the nine regions responsible for the delivery of homeless services with tenancies now in place in every region.

At the end of 2020, a total of 508 individuals were being housed under the Housing First programme including 392 individuals who have been housed since the publication of the National Implementation Plan. I look forward to the targets outlined in the National Implementation Plan being reached by the end of this year. I wrote to each local authority on 26 February to recognise the progress made on Housing First to date, to stress the importance that that national targets are met, and to confirm that the expansion of the programme from 2022 for the years ahead will be announced later this year.

The Programme for Government commits to the further expansion of Housing First. Research is currently being undertaken by the Housing Agency to carry out an assessment of need for the supports provided by Housing First. This will inform the expansion of the Programme which I expect to announce later this year, in advance of the expiration of the current National Implementation Plan.

Social and Affordable Housing

 368. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the current position regarding the household means policy review; if open consultation will be allowed as part of the review in order to receive submissions from the public, civil society and housing campaign groups; the estimated timeframe for when the review will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12521/21]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien Applications for social housing support are assessed by the relevant local authority, in accordance with the eligibility and need criteria set down in section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the associated Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, as amended.

The 2011 Regulations prescribe maximum net income limits for each local authority, in different bands according to the area concerned, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy.

Under the Household Means Policy, which applies in all local authorities, net income for social housing assessment is defined as gross household income less income tax, PRSI, Universal Social Charge and Pension-Related Deductions within the meaning of Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009. The Policy provides for a range of income disregards, and local authorities also have discretion to decide to disregard income that is temporary, short-term or once-off in nature.

As part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of the Household Means Policy has been undertaken by officials in my Department. No formal public consultation process is envisaged. I would expect to be in a position to make a decision on proposed amendments to the Policy in due course.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 369. Deputy Richard Bruton Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien if adoption of a home to permit homeworking is deemed essential work during level 5 restrictions. [12566/21]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The Government announced that additional public health restrictions would apply under Level 5 of the Plan for Living with COVID-19 on 6 January 2021. The additional restrictions required all construction activity to cease from 6pm on Friday 8 January, with a number of exceptions. These measures are set out in The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No. 10) Regulations 2020 (as amended).

With regard to private housing development, the Regulations provide that housing and construction works ongoing on 8 January could continue where the works required to render the property capable of occupation were scheduled for completion by 31 January 2021. The Regulations also provide for the supply and delivery of essential or emergency maintenance and repair services to businesses and homes (including electrical, gas, oil, plumbing, glazing and roofing services) on an emergency call-out basis.

On 23 February, the Government announced that the current level 5 restrictions will remain in place until 5 April 2021, when the easing of restrictions relating to construction will be considered.

Housing Assistance Payment

 370. Deputy Paul Donnelly Information on Paul Donnelly Zoom on Paul Donnelly asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien if consideration will be given to the housing assistance payment limit when a tenant finds accommodation that may be just outside the county boundary, for example, Clonee, Dublin 15 (details supplied). [12574/21]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien Under the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme, tenants source their own accommodation in the private rented market. The accommodation sourced by tenants should be within the prescribed maximum HAP rent limits, which are based on household size and the rental market within the area concerned.

Guidelines on inter authority movement were issued to local authorities to facilitate the movement of HAP households from one local authority area to another in cases where a HAP tenant wishes to access rented accommodation, with HAP support, in another local authority area. Inter authority movement is, however, subject to certain conditions, such as the relevant Social Housing Income Eligibility Bands and confirmation that the applicant's income is below the threshold in the new local authority.

HAP tenants that avail of inter authority movement continue to be dealt with by their originating local authority. However, the rent limits applicable are those that apply in the local authority where the property is situated.

Each local authority has statutory discretion to agree to a HAP payment up to 20% above the prescribed maximum rent limit in circumstances where it is necessary, because of local rental market conditions, to secure appropriate accommodation for a household that requires it. It is a matter for the local authority to determine if the application of the flexibility is warranted on a case by case basis. Additional discretion of up to 50% above rent limits is available to assist in housing homeless households in the Dublin Region only.

Agriculture Schemes

 371. Deputy Seán Canney Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien if the farm plan for designated areas will be available to all farmers in the 2021 Shannon Callows season; the amount available for this plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12592/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Malcolm Noonan): Information on Malcolm Noonan Zoom on Malcolm Noonan My Department recognises the positive role that farming can play in addressing biodiversity loss. The NPWS Farm Plan Scheme operates nationally, targeting various habitats and species by working proactively with farmers to go above and beyond their statutory requirements.

While there is no specific ‘Shannon Callows Farm Plan Scheme’, a number of farmers in the Shannon Callows have participated in the Scheme, with the objective of managing proactively for meadows and grasslands, Corncrake and breeding waders.

Since 2007, the National Parks & Wildlife has invested over €2.5 million by way of payments to farmers in the Shannon Callows. When the budget for the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme was curtailed in 2010, all existing farm plan contracts were honoured by my Department and, in advance of GLAS opening in 2015, my Department worked closely with the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine to prioritise entry to that Scheme for farmers in the Shannon Callows.

There are currently 14 NPWS Farm Plans for the Shannon Callows, which is the largest number of NPWS Farm Plans active in any one designated area. An open call will be announced shortly for farmers to apply for the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme and farmers in the Shannon Callows are eligible to apply. Applications are made as part of a competitive process and there can be no guarantee of entry in 2021 as the scheme is subject to an overall limited budget.

I have secured additional funding for the Scheme in 2021.

Land Development Agency

 372. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien further to Parliamentary Question No. 310 of 24 February 2021, the reason the response did not include an update on the involvement of the Land Development Agency in the Colbert Lands, Limerick and Strand Road, Galway; if the involvement of the Agency in these sites will be clarified; the way in which it differs to its involvement in the nine sites list in the response; and if the Agency plans to seek SDZ designation for either or both of these sites subsequent to the passing of the Land Development Agency Bill 2021. [12606/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Peter Burke): Information on Peter Burke Zoom on Peter Burke The Land Development Agency (LDA) was established on an interim basis in September 2018, by way of an Establishment Order made under the Local Government Services (Corporate Bodies) Act 1971, pending the enactment of the Land Development Agency Bill.

On establishment, the LDA had access to an initial tranche of 8 sites and is also working in partnership with Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council on the development of a site at Shanganagh. In addition, the LDA is also working on masterplanning sites in partnership with relevant local authorities and other public bodies. These sites were not included in the response to Parliamentary Question No. 310 of 24 February 2021 as these sites are not as advanced in the planning process as the other nine sites and are medium term development opportunities. These sites include the Colbert Station Quarter site in Limerick and the Sandy Road site in Galway.

The LDA have advised my Department that they are working with Limerick City and County Council, CIE and the HSE to prepare a Masterplan for the state owned lands in the Colbert Station Quarter. The Masterplan will explore the potential of the site to deliver on the aspirations of national and regional planning policy and provide a mixed use development. Once complete, the LDA will carry out a public consultation on the Draft Masterplan.

The LDA ran a design review of the Sandy Road Regeneration Project in partnership with Galway City Council. A procurement process to appoint a design team to prepare a detailed Masterplan is due to commence shortly. This Masterplan will explore the potential to deliver an affordable housing led mixed use regeneration of a strategic site on Sandy Road in Galway City.

Once the masterplanning process for both of these sites is complete, the LDA will continue to work with key partners on both sites to explore and agree the best method to activate the sites, including bringing forward development sites for planning approval and subsequent development. This process will include examining the potential for the designation of either site as a Strategic Development Zone (SDZ).

Local Authority Functions

 373. Deputy Neale Richmond Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien if he has engaged with Dublin City Council regarding the proposed white-water rafting centre at George’s Dock; his views on whether a public facility such as a lido would be more appropriate in the space; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12611/21]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien As part of its successful multifaceted North Inner City Concept Area 1 proposal under Call 2 of the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF), Dublin City Council sought funding support for the development of a White Water Rafting Facility in George's Dock. While significant URDF funding was provisionally approved for a number of elements of the wider proposal the White Water Rafting element was not successful in securing URDF support.

Any plans for the further advancement of this or any other proposed development for George’s Dock is a matter for Dublin City Council.

Irish Water

 374. Deputy Bríd Smith Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien if the situation of the service level agreement between Irish Water and local authority workers will be clarified; the number of workers covered by the agreement; the number of workers who have been requested to transfer fully to Irish Water to date; if his attention has been drawn to the number of workers who do not wish to transfer; the plans of his Department and Irish Water to deal with the number who do not wish to transfer; if the workers will be guaranteed their current conditions if they remain with the relevant local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12625/21]

 415. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien if it will be ensured those local authority staff members currently seconded to Irish Water will not have to transfer permanently to Irish Water without their agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13455/21]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I propose to take Questions Nos. 374 and 415 together.

  The Programme for Government provides that the Government will retain Irish Water in public ownership as a national, standalone, regulated utility.

  The realisation of this commitment will complete the broad policy and legislative reforms which have seen the public water system embark on a journey of transformation, from a structure based on locally-organised water services authorities, towards a single, national, water utility. This has been a complex and challenging process for key stakeholders, notably the workers, who include approximately 3,200 local authority water services staff who are subject to service level agreement arrangements with Irish Water as well as a smaller number of staff employed directly by Irish Water and Ervia, together with their trade union representatives, the local government sector, and Ervia/Irish Water.

In keeping with the Programme for Government commitment, the Government recently approved a Policy Paper entitled Irish Water - Towards a national, publicly-owned, regulated water services utility which is now available on my Department's website at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/06326-water-sector-transformation-policy-paper/   . The Policy Paper sets out the Government's expectations and views in relation to the next phase of the Water Sector Transformation Programme, including those matters raised in the questions.

  By setting out its views and expectations in this way, the Government is enabling stakeholders to engage meaningfully in the change process which will give them the strongest possible say in determining their own future working arrangements. I have written to the Workplace Relations Commission on 3 March 2021 asking them to contact the parties to arrange to re-commence engagement on a Framework for the future delivery of water services. The Government believes it will be possible to reach a collective agreement which addresses the interests and concerns of all parties.

Planning Issues

 375. Deputy Mark Ward Information on Mark Ward Zoom on Mark Ward asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the necessary local authority planning permission requests that persons need to apply for in order to be able to work from home or to operate their business from home; and if there has been an increase in these application in the previous 12 months. [12647/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Peter Burke): Information on Peter Burke Zoom on Peter Burke A wide range of exemptions from planning permission are already provided for under Section 4 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, (the Act) and Schedule 2 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended, (the Regulations). Such exemptions are provided for when they are considered to be consistent with proper planning and sustainable development.

  Under Class 1 of Schedule 2 of the Regulations, an extension to an existing house up to a limit of 40 square metres is exempted development, with additional conditions and limitations set out in the Regulations.

  Class 3 of Schedule 2 of the Regulations provides for a further exemption in respect of the construction, erection or placing within the curtilage of a house of any tent, awning, shade or other object, greenhouse, garage, store, shed or other similar structure. Similarly, this exemption is also subject to conditions and limitations as set out in the Regulations, including that it should be for the sole purpose of being incidental to the enjoyment of the house.

  It should be noted that the exemptions outlined are for the sole use of the home owner and not, for example, for the purpose of facilitating the establishment of a commercial enterprise. Such development would be classed as a material change of use - i.e. a change of use of a property from residential use to commercial use - and would therefore require planning permission. An application for such permission provides an opportunity for members of the public to make submissions or observations in respect of the proposed development while also providing the planning authority with the opportunity to consider a range of potential impacts of, such as increased traffic, in the area that may result from any such proposed change of use.

  If a person wishes to establish whether or not planning permission is required for a specific development proposal, they can seek a declaration from their local authority under Section 5 of the Act.

  Arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is likely that there will be an increase in the number of home offices incorporated within existing house structures, being the subject of home extensions or of being incorporated in separate new structures within the curtilage of a house. Planning statistics are compiled by each planning authority on an annual basis for collation and publication on my Department’s website at the following link:

https://www.gov.ie/en/service/9e4ee-get-planning-statistics/

  However, these statistics do not include home office/business related information. The Deputy may wish to contact his local planning authority in relation to trends on the number of planning applications being submitted for this form of development in the area concerned.

Social and Affordable Housing

 376. Deputy Duncan Smith Information on Duncan Smith Zoom on Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the status of the provision of social housing at a location (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12650/21]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) are making an important contribution to social housing delivery, as envisaged under current Government policy. My Department operates a number of funding programmes that assist local authorities to work in partnership with AHBs to construct, purchase and lease new homes and make them available for social housing. One such programme, that AHBs progress construction projects through, is the Capital Advance Loan Facility (CALF)

CALF funding is capital support provided to AHBs by local authorities to facilitate the funding of construction, acquisition or refurbishment of new social housing units. This loan facility can support up to 30% of the eligible capital cost of the housing project, with the housing units provided to local authorities for social housing use under long-term lease arrangements known as Payment and Availability Agreements. A nominal interest rate of 2% fixed per annum is charged by the local authority on the initial capital amount.   Repayments on either the capital or interest are not required during the term of the loan (between 10 and 30 years), although where an AHB chooses to, repayments can be made during the term. At the end of the term, the outstanding capital amount plus the interest accrued, is owed and repayable to the local authority. The local authority issues the CALF monies to the AHB and the local authority, in turn, recoups same from my Department.

  There is a housing project comprising 35 high-quality homes for social housing use, that is being progressed by the AHB, Respond, in the location referred to, working in partnership with Kildare County Council. I can confirm that my Department issued a CALF approval for this construction project in May 2020. This project has an indicative completion date of December 2022. As with all construction projects in the current COVID 19 climate, delivery programmes and timelines are under constant review.

  My Department publishes a quarterly Social Housing Construction Projects Status Report, which sets out the continuing progress being made in advancing the national local authority and AHB new-build pipeline. The latest report, setting out the position at end Q4 2020, can be accessed at the following weblink:

https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-obrien-publishes-2020-social-housing-statistics/ .

Social and Affordable Housing

 377. Deputy Duncan Smith Information on Duncan Smith Zoom on Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the amount of funding his Department has provided to voluntary housing associations based in County Kildare to maintain and upgrade their social housing stock over the past three years by AHB, location and amount in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12651/21]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien My Department operates a number of funding programmes that assist local authorities to work in partnership with Approved Housing Bodies to construct, purchase or lease new homes and make them available for social housing.

  This funding is underpinned by either mortgage agreements, capital advance agreements, leases or Payment & Availability agreements, which set out the terms and conditions of the funding and the specific responsibilities the Approved Housing Body has for the properties and their tenants.

  Where an Approved Housing Body has purchased or constructed a property that is in their ownership, the responsibility for management and maintenance of that property is a matter for them to meet, in most cases, from their own income. This income is derived, in the main, from a combination of rent payments from the tenant and monthly payments made by the local authority to the Approved Housing Bodies in accordance with a Payment & Availability agreement which is in place for each of these properties.

  The main area in which specific management and maintenance fees are provided to Approved Housing Bodies relates to properties delivered via the now closed Capital Loan & Subsidy Scheme (CLSS). The table below sets out the funding made available by my Department to Kildare County Council over the last 3 years, for provision to Approved Housing Bodies for the management and maintenance of their CLSS-funded properties.

AHB
Housing Scheme
Funding 2018 to 2020
CILL DARA HOUSING COMPANY LIMITED BISHOPSLAND - PHASE 1 €19,548
CILL DARA HOUSING COMPANY LIMITED BISHOPSLAND - PHASE 3 €71,676
CILL DARA HOUSING COMPANY LIMITED LOUGHMINANE GREEN, KILDARE €22,806
CILL DARA HOUSING COMPANY LIMITED BISHOPSLAND - PHASE 2 €45,612
CILL DARA HOUSING COMPANY LIMITED ROWANVILLE, KILDARE TOWN €1,629
CILL URNAI HOUSING ASSOCIATION LTD KILDANGAN €19,548
CILL URNAI HOUSING ASSOCIATION LTD KILBERRY, ATHY €22,806
CIRCLE VOLUNTARY HOUSING ASSOCIATION LIMITED BEECH PARK, LEIXLIP €31,494
CLANMIL HOUSING ASSOCIATION IRELAND LIMITED EASTON ROAD, LEIXLIP €34,752
DROICHEAD NUA HOUSING ASSOCIATION MORRISTOWNBILLER, NEWBRIDGE €9,774
GOODWILL HOUSING CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY LIMITED HAWTHORNS, MILLFIELD MANOR, NEWBRIDGE €19,548
GOODWILL HOUSING CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY LIMITED RICKARDSTOWN, NEWBRIDGE €28,236
HILLSIDE VIEW VOL HOUSING ASSOC BISHOPSLAND €17,376
MONASTEREVIN HOUSING ASSOC LTD FERNSBRIDGE, MONASTEREVIN €7,602
MONASTEREVIN HOUSING ASSOC LTD COWPASTURE, MONASTEREVAN €10,860
RATHANGAN HOUSING ASSOCIATION RATHANGAN DEMESNE, RATHANGAN €7,602
RESPOND VOLUNTARY HOUSING AGENCY ARDREW, ATHY €29,322
RESPOND VOLUNTARY HOUSING AGENCY EASTON RD., LEIXLIP €45,612
RESPOND VOLUNTARY HOUSING AGENCY FLINTERS FIELD, ATHY €71,676
RESPOND VOLUNTARY HOUSING AGENCY BALLYMAKEALY, CELBRIDE €19,548
SUNCROFT HOUSING ASSOCIATION LTD SUNCROFT €17,376

Social and Affordable Housing

 378. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan Information on Aindrias Moynihan Zoom on Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the current review status of income eligibility for social housing supports in each local authority and in particular, Cork County Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12673/21]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien Applications for social housing support are assessed by the relevant local authority, in accordance with the eligibility and need criteria set down in section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the associated Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, as amended.

The 2011 Regulations prescribe maximum net income limits for each local authority, in different bands according to the area concerned, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy. The 2011 Regulations do not provide local authorities with any discretion to exceed the limits that apply to their administrative areas.

Under the Household Means Policy, which applies in all local authorities, net income for social housing assessment is defined as gross household income less income tax, PRSI, Universal Social Charge and Pension-Related Deductions within the meaning of Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009. The Policy provides for a range of income disregards, and local authorities also have discretion to decide to disregard income that is temporary, short-term or once-off in nature.

The income bands are expressed in terms of a maximum net income threshold for a single-person household, with an allowance of 5% for each additional adult household member, subject to a maximum allowance under this category of 10%; and 2.5% for each child, subject to a maximum allowance under this category of 10%.

The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band were based on an assessment of the income needed to provide for a household's basic needs, plus a comparative analysis of the local rental cost of housing accommodation across the country. It is important to note that the limits introduced in 2011 also reflected a blanket increase of €5,000 introduced prior to the new system coming into operation, in order to broaden the base from which social housing tenants are drawn, both promoting sustainable communities and also providing a degree of future-proofing.

Given the cost to the State of providing social housing, it is considered prudent and fair to direct resources to those most in need of social housing support. The current income eligibility requirements generally achieve this, providing for a fair and equitable system of identifying those households facing the greatest challenge in meeting their accommodation needs from their own resources.

However, as part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of income eligibility for social housing supports in each local authority area is underway. The review will have regard to current initiatives being brought forward in terms of affordability and cost rental and will be completed when the impacts of these parallel initiatives have been considered.

Architects Register

 379. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the status of the recognition of architectural technologists alongside other disciplines in the built environment (details supplied); if he plans to put the recognition on a statutory footing; and if so, the timeline for same to be delivered. [12712/21]

 380. Deputy Neasa Hourigan Information on Neasa Hourigan Zoom on Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the status of the process to implement the architectural technologists’ register on a statutory footing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12771/21]

 381. Deputy Neasa Hourigan Information on Neasa Hourigan Zoom on Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien when he plans to grant approval to an organisation (details supplied) to commence operating a shadow register of the planned architectural technologists’ register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12772/21]

 382. Deputy Réada Cronin Information on Réada Cronin Zoom on Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the progress on implementing the architectural technologists’ register on the necessary statutory footing (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12780/21]

 386. Deputy Joe O'Brien Information on Joe O'Brien Zoom on Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien his plans to implement an architectural technologists’ register including the process to approve committees and boards for the proposed shadow register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12857/21]

 390. Deputy Verona Murphy Information on Verona Murphy Zoom on Verona Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the progress which has been made on the process to implement the architectural technology register on a statutory footing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12942/21]

 411. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the status of the process to place the architectural technologists’ register on a statutory footing; the timeline for the implementation of the register; the reason for the delay in implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13409/21]

 417. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the status of the register for architectural technicians. [13462/21]

 420. Deputy Gary Gannon Information on Gary Gannon Zoom on Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien if he will accelerate the steps required to place the architectural technologists’ register on a statutory footing; and the status of progress in relation to same. [13539/21]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I propose to take Questions Nos. 379 to 382, inclusive, 386, 390, 411, 417 and 420 together.

In general, the regulation of professions is in the first instance a matter for industry representatives working in consultation with relevant industry stakeholders. My Department has been engaging with the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) in relation to the registration of Architectural Technologists. In this regard, CIAT has identified that its preferred route is to set up a stand-alone register for Architectural Technologists. As such, it is now a matter for CIAT to set up a register on an administrative basis in keeping with registers already in place for other professional groupings under the Building Control Act 2007 and in consultation with the relevant industry stakeholders. CIAT have been advised that the register should be in place for a sufficient period of time to demonstrate that it operates effectively in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

Following this process, my Department will review the register and subject to this review, will then consider bringing forward legislative proposals to place it on a statutory basis. CIAT have been advised of the process required to publish primary legislation.

It is also worth noting that, depending on their personal background and experience, it may be open to persons who are Architectural Technologists, and who possess the requisite experience and competence in the design of buildings, to seek inclusion on either of the statutory registers in respect of Architects or Building Surveyors. A number of Architectural Technologists have already succeeded in gaining inclusion on the statutory registers to date and are thus in a position to act as Design Certifiers and Assigned Certifiers.


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