Header Item Written Answers Nos. 225-244
 Header Item Home Tuition Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Schools Building Projects
 Header Item Special Educational Needs
 Header Item Schools Site Acquisitions
 Header Item Water Services Infrastructure
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing
 Header Item Vacant Sites Levy
 Header Item Housing Data
 Header Item Private Rented Accommodation
 Header Item Private Rented Accommodation
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing
 Header Item Water Services Funding
 Header Item Local Authority Housing Standards
 Header Item County Development Plans
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Data
 Header Item Departmental Projects

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 935 No. 3
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 80 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 225-244

Home Tuition Scheme Eligibility

 225. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the procedure through which a company or a person providing early intervention services in a preschool setting to children with autism and-or ASD can avail of the home tuition grant; the most appropriate person for them to contact in his Department in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3132/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Purpose of the Home Tuition Grant Scheme is to provide a compensatory educational service for children who, for a number of reasons such as chronic illness, are unable to attend school. The scheme also provides a compensatory educational service for children with special educational needs seeking an educational placement for whom such a placement is not available. Provision is also made for early educational intervention for children aged from 2.5 years to 3 years with autism.

Home Tuition is provided as an interim measure only for children for whom a placement in a recognised school is sought but not available and should not be regarded as an optional alternative to a school placement.

Where parents of children, who are eligible for Home Tuition under the terms of the scheme, and for whom home tuition has been approved, have sought alternative arrangements to be put in place for the tuition, my Department has responded by putting arrangements in place with 12 private pre-school providers which provide group tuition to children in a class type setting. Each of these providers was selected by the parents.

My Department will consider similar arrangements with other private providers should parents of eligible children request this.

In recognition of the demand for group arrangements by parents of children, who are eligible for Home Tuition under the scheme, my Department now advises all such parents of the option to enter into a group arrangement with other parents of children for whom home tuition has been sanctioned. My Department has no contract with the pre-school providers. The contract is essentially between the parents and the relevant provider.

Parents wishing to enter into such an arrangement must notify my Department in advance for approval. The arrangements must conform to the general terms of the scheme.

Schools Building Projects

 226. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans to support the provision of additional land and facilities at a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3136/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The delivery of school projects so that all schools in an area can between them cater for all students seeking a school place is the main focus of my Department's capital budget.

To this end my Department uses a Geographical Information System (GIS) to identify the areas under increased demographic pressure nationwide. The system uses a range of data sources in carrying out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed. The outcome of the latest demographic exercises was that in November 2015, 13 new schools were announced to open nationwide in 2017 and 2018. This is in addition to a new primary school to cater for demographic growth which opened in September 2016 to serve the Drumcondra/Marino/Dublin 1 school planning area. This area is adjacent to the school planning area in which the school in question is located. My Department is also aware that there is existing capacity in primary schools in the Coolock/Darndale/Artane/Edenmore areas. 

I wish to advise the Deputy that I have made arrangements to meet with the school, in question, to clarify the position and to discuss any other issues they may have.

Special Educational Needs

 227. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan Information on Jim O'Callaghan Zoom on Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if children with SNAs in a school (details supplied) are given their allocated time; the reason some children are not receiving the time with SNAs that they are allocated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3157/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support, as set out in my Department's Circular 0030/2014.

  The Special Needs Assistant (SNA) scheme is designed to provide schools with additional adult support staff who can assist children with special educational needs who also have additional and significant care needs. Such support is provided in order to facilitate the attendance of those pupils at school and also to minimise disruption to class or teaching time for the pupils concerned, or for their peers, and with a view to developing their independent living skills.  SNA support is allocated to schools to support pupils based on their assessed care needs, as opposed to being allocated on the basis of a particular disability diagnosis.

  SNA allocations are accordingly not made to individual children, but are made to schools to support the care needs of children with assessed special educational needs in the school.

  The consideration of professional reports is an integral part of determining the extent of supports to be provided for pupils with special educational needs. In making allocations to schools, the NCSE takes into account the assessed individual needs of all children with identified needs in the school.   

  A school's allocation of SNA support can change from year to year and may be increased or decreased as students who qualify for SNA support enrol or leave a school. New students with care needs may, or may not, enrol to replace students who have left, for example, or SNA allocations may be decreased where a child's care needs have diminished over time.

  The deployment of SNAs within schools is then a matter for the individual Principal/Board of Management. Department Circular 0030/2014 provides substantial guidance on the deployment and utilisation of SNAs within schools. SNAs should be deployed by the school in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated. It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised.

  The NCSE has published details of SNA allocations to schools for 2016 on its website: http://ncse.ie/statistics. 

Schools Site Acquisitions

 228. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of a site assessment at a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3158/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Deputy will be aware that a building project for the school in question is included in my Department's 6 Year Construction Programme (2019-2021). My Department is aware of the school's accommodation needs and will be liaising with the school in due course in the context of initiating the architectural planning process for the project.

Water Services Infrastructure

 229. Deputy Paul Kehoe Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding the recommendations from the steering group of the project undertaken to identify the extent of problems arising from developer-provided water services infrastructure; the plan, including funding options, in place to address the problems arising from developer-provided water services infrastructure in order to remove impediments to the taking in charge of associated housing estates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2748/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The National Taking in Charge Initiative (NTICI) for residential estates with a pilot scheme funding of €10 million was announced in April 2016. The aim of the NTICI was to accelerate the taking-in-charge process of housing estates, including estates with developer-provided water services infrastructure. Survey data gathered from each of the 31 local authorities were collated in December 2015 and, subsequently, funding was allocated by my Department for a number of developments on the basis of proposals submitted by the local authorities.

The information provided by this survey indicated that, of the 5,566 developments yet to be taken in charge, there are approximately 914 estates with developer-provided water services infrastructure (DPI).

Under the terms of the NTICI, only those developments subject to valid taking-in-charge applications were eligible for inclusion in the call for funding proposals, outlined in Circular FPS3 of April 2016. It was also stipulated that funding for estates with DPI would only apply to developments that could demonstrate sustainable solutions that will also be acceptable to Irish Water and EPA. The valuable knowledge and experience gained under this Initiative will help to inform and direct future taking-in-charge processes.

Seven local authorities were selected from the list with DPI; Clare, Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Tipperary and Wexford, as they contained a significant number of housing estates with DPI. In total, 68 developments with DPI were submitted by the seven local authorities for funding and 44 were initially approved.

After assessing the submissions in detail, a final allocation of €1.9 million was distributed across the 7 local authorities to progress works on 31 housing estates with developer provided water services infrastructure to taking in charge standard. Work is still progressing on a number of these pilot projects and upon the completion of these works my Department will prepare a report by the Summer of 2017 on key lessons learned with recommendations, based on the experience gained, to inform and progress future taking-in-charge plans.

Social and Affordable Housing

 230. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he has had discussions with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs regarding the extent to which local authorities are obliged to take into consideration in their allocations policies a number of factors (details supplied). [3119/17]

 231. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he has had any discussions with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs regarding whether an applicant for social housing is entitled to be considered an adult plus children, for the purposes of allocation, in the circumstances in which the children stay with the parent several days a week. [3120/17]

 232. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on the fact that many parents in circumstances in which they are separated from their former partner, find it difficult to accommodate their children for the number of days that they have access to them, due to being considered a single applicant for the purposes of social housing and consequently, are only entitled to enough rent supplement or HAP to house themselves; his further views on whether this makes contact with that parent difficult for the child; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3121/17]

 260. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the extent to which local authorities are obliged to take into consideration in their allocations policies a number of factors (details supplied). [3106/17]

 261. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if a person is entitled to be considered as an adult plus children for the purposes of allocation of social housing in circumstances in which the children stay with the parent several days a week. [3107/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I propose to take Questions Nos. 230 to 232, inclusive, and 260 and 261 together.

The allocation of social housing support to qualified households is a matter for the local authority concerned, in accordance with its allocation scheme made in accordance with section 22 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and associated Regulations. This legislation requires all local authorities, as a reserved function, to make an allocation scheme determining the order of priority to be accorded in the allocation of dwellings to households qualified for social housing support, the allocation of which would, in the opinion of the authority, meet the accommodation needs and requirements of the households. Under the 2009 Act, a household is defined as a person living alone, or two or more persons, who in the opinion of the local authority concerned, have a reasonable requirement to live together.

As such, it is a matter for each housing authority to decide on the type of support to be allocated to individual households. As Minister, I am precluded by the 2009 Act from intervening in relation to the procedures followed, or decisions made, by housing authorities in the allocation of particular dwellings.

I have not had discussions with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in relation to the allocation of accommodation to households of the type referred to.

Vacant Sites Levy

 233. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will bring forward the date for full implementation of the vacant site levy; if he will consider reducing the number of exemptions that apply to the Act; if he will consider raising the levy applied to exceed annual land price inflation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2542/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015 introduced a new measure, the vacant site levy, with a view to incentivising the development of vacant or under-utilised sites in urban areas. Under the Act, planning authorities are required to establish a register of vacant sites in their areas, beginning on 1 January 2017, and to issue annual notices to owners of vacant sites by 1 June 2018 in respect of vacant sites on the register on 1 January 2018. The levy will be applied by planning authorities, commencing on 1 January 2019, in respect of sites which were vacant and on the vacant site register during the preceding year (i.e. 2018) and will subsequently be applied on an annual basis thereafter, as long as a site remains on the vacant site register in the preceding year.   

  The timeframes set out in the legislation in relation to the commencement of the application of the levy are based on legal advice in relation to the constitutional rights of property owners and are intended to allow site owners sufficient time and opportunity to initiate development on their sites, or alternatively to sell their sites, in order to avoid becoming liable for the levy.

  Planning authorities are empowered to apply an annual vacant site levy of 3% of the market value of vacant sites exceeding 0.05 hectares (or 500 square metres) in area which, in the planning authority’s opinion, were vacant or idle in the preceding year, in areas identified by the planning authority in its development plan or local area plan for residential or regeneration development. The 3% rate of vacant site levy is consistent with the rate applied to derelict sites under the Derelict Sites Act 1990 and is considered reasonable, without being over-punitive, for the purposes of incentivising the activation of such sites for residential or regeneration purposes.

  In addition, the legislation provides that reduced or zero rates of levy may apply in specific circumstances in order to help alleviate the financial burden faced by owners of vacant sites which are subject to a site loan and where the loan is greater than the market value of the site (i.e. a negative equity situation), and also where the site loan is greater than 50% of the market value of the site. This is to ensure that the levy provisions are fair, reasonable and proportionate taking account of the difficult circumstances faced by owners who are in this position.   

  In this context, I have no proposals to amend the existing legislative provisions relating to the vacant site levy in relation to the timeframes for its implementation or the rate of the levy to be applied, as proposed.   

  My Department issued general guidance in July 2016 on the implementation of the vacant site levy to planning authorities by way of Circular Letter PL 7/2016, entitled Implementation of the Vacant Site Levy, as provided for in the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015, which is available on my Department’s website at the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/pl_07-2016_guidance_on_implementation_of_the_vacant_site_levy.pdf.

  Planning authorities are presently engaging in the necessary preparatory work prior to the application of the levy with effect from January 2019, including the revision of development plans to specify the areas in which the levy is to be applied as well as the identification of specific vacant sites for entry on the register. My Department will monitor the implementation of the levy to ensure that it is being fully used in line with its intended purpose.     

Housing Data

 234. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on the accuracy of housing completion statistics relied on by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2543/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department receives detailed monthly data from the ESB on the number of connections to the electricity grid; these data have for many years been used as a proxy for house completions as units are normally connected at the point at which the unit is ready for occupation. My Department maintains regular contact with the ESB to ensure that this data set remains relevant and consistent over time. The ESB recently confirmed to the Department that the connections figure includes a small, but not easily quantified, number of reconnections to the grid where the unit was disconnected, and therefore vacant, for at least two years. Furthermore, they also confirmed that service alterations are not included in the connections figures.

My Department also produces annual estimates of the housing stock using census figures, when available, completions data and an evolving estimate for obsolescence of the housing stock. I will shortly publish the final monthly housing output report for 2016 and that report will show that, after a sustained period of very low levels of activity, there are now clear positive signs of increasing supply.

My Department will continue to monitor and review a range of available sources of housing data and statistics on an ongoing basis to ensure that the best possible information is available to inform policy development and implementation.

Private Rented Accommodation

 235. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the evidence he has for the claim that landlords are exiting the market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2545/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The 2015 Annual Report of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) reported 319,609 registered tenancies with 170,282 landlords and 693,314 occupants.

  There are no definitive figures on the overall size of the rented sector in Ireland. However, a study by DKM economic consultants commissioned by the RTB and published in 2014 examined both Central Statistics Office data and RTB annual reports to examine the size of the sector.

  They reported on the size of the Rented Sector as follows:   

 Census 2011 RTB 2011 RTB 2012 RTB 2013 RTB 2014
Landlords  182,800 212,306 179,026 160,160
Tenants 770,375 554,567 593,382 457,208* 643,330
Tenancies 305,377 260,144 264,434 282,918 303,574
*May not include all tenants i.e. minor.   

  There is evidence of a drop in the total number of landlords over recent years, followed by a recovery.   

  The results of Census 2016 will assist in providing an updated overview of housing tenure in Ireland, including the rented sector.   

Private Rented Accommodation

 236. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the current rate of return for landlords on private residential property with a buy to let mortgage and with no mortgage in view of his previous statements that the rationale for allowing rent increases of up to 4% in rent pressure zones was to ensure a rate of return for landlords of 4%. [2546/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The widely varying market conditions in the residential rental sector across the country mean that estimating rental income against landlords’ costs in providing rental properties in any meaningful aggregate manner is extremely difficult. Not only do rents vary significantly across the country but so do levels of indebtedness among landlords with buy to let mortgages and hence the costs they face in servicing their borrowings. Whether a rental property is financed through debt or equity, the issue of a return on investment still arises.

Neither my Department, nor the Residential Tenancies Board, collects information on the cost and value of landlords’ investment or on their operating costs.

Social and Affordable Housing

 237. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will provide information on the planned reduction in social housing provision at publicly owned sites earmarked for redevelopment under land initiative style proposals, relative to the amount of council housing historically provided on those sites when estates were originally built. [2547/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I believe there is a broad consensus that housing output needs to at least double, across all tenures, to provide the 25,000 new homes a year needed to meet demand. There is also consensus on the need for a significant portion of the increased output to be at more affordable prices and rents. Achieving these aims is the fundamental objective underpinning the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness.

During the extensive stakeholder consultation that preceded publication of Rebuilding Ireland, the issue of large tracts of land, suitable for housing, but with little or no construction underway, was raised frequently. In the case of local authority owned lands, I was determined that under Rebuilding Ireland, we would see accelerated delivery of homes from these and other State lands. In progressing housing activity on these sites, there is no question of reducing social housing output. Overall, some 47,000 additional social housing units are to be provided under Rebuilding Ireland and in the case of large publicly owned sites, social housing is to be delivered as part of vibrant, integrated, mixed tenure developments.

O’Devaney Gardens in Dublin City is a good example of one such large site where the City Council has brought forward a significant proposal for accelerated housing development. In order to optimise delivery of housing from this site, my Department has agreed a mixed tenure approach with the City Council. This approach delivers accelerated output across all tenures and also has wider benefits in terms of the achievement of more sustainable integrated communities. Such developments are considered on a case by case and site-specific basis between my Department and the local authority concerned.

The approach to delivery of housing from such sites is in accordance with State land supply and management objectives contained in Rebuilding Ireland. More broadly, my Department is engaging with local authorities and other State bodies, to identify and map sites in local authority and public ownership for the purposes of delivering housing more quickly. This approach to active land management of State land can also enhance land supply more broadly, providing alternatives for a wide variety of housing providers, including the public and voluntary housing sectors, and ensuring that the State extracts the most beneficial use of under-utilised assets for much needed housing in the shortest possible timeframe.

As part of the broader land management strategy, I recently announced details of 23 Major Urban Housing Development Sites, some in State ownership and some owned privately, with the potential to deliver up to 30,000 additional homes over the next 3 to 4 years on existing zoned lands and close to the key areas of demand. These sites are being progressed as exemplars for the co-ordination and delivery of plan-led housing development and active land management.

Water Services Funding

 238. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he has received a request from Clare County Council's rural water monitoring committee to clarify the definition of multi-annual programming in the rural water sector and to ensure that the full RWP allocations for 2017 and subsequent years are made as early as possible in the year and preferably in the first quarter in order that moneys can be fully drawn down; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2556/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I can confirm that Clare County Council's Rural Water Monitoring Committee has sought a clarification in relation to my Department’s new Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme 2016-2018 and a reply will issue shortly.

  In 2016 an Expert Panel, convened for the purpose, considered bids from local authorities for schemes for the period 2016-2018 under Measures 3, 4 and 5 of the multi-annual programme. The subsequent approval of schemes in the programme under these three measures brought certainty to their inclusion in the programme, allows their preliminary preparation to commence and will enable my Department to make an early allocation of funding for them in 2017. My Department will soon seek bids from local authorities for Measures 1 and 2 of the programme for 2017.   

  A copy of the Expert Panel’s report and consideration of all proposals under Measures 3, 4 and 5 of the Programme is available on my Department’s website at the following link –

http://www.housing.gov.ie/water/water-services/rural-water-programme/group-water-schemes-and-rural-water-issues.   

Local Authority Housing Standards

 239. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his plans to amend the minimum size that apartments can be built in order to become wheelchair accessible (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2557/17]

 240. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his plans to make all new and or proposed local authority housing and apartment schemes and or units fully wheelchair accessible (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2560/17]

 248. Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if his attention has been drawn to the claims outlined in a newspaper (details supplied) that Dublin City Council cannot design apartments to be wheelchair accessible and also at the Department's minimum building size standards; if so, the minimum size building standard for a wheelchair accessible apartment; his plans for this wheelchair accessible standard as the minimum building size standard; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [2806/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English I propose to take Questions Nos. 239, 240 and 248 together.

  All new buildings, including social housing units, must comply with the legally enforceable minimum performance standards set out in the Building Regulations 1997-2014. In this context, the Building Regulations (Part M Amendment) Regulations 2010, and the accompanying Technical Guidance Document M - Access and Use (2010), which came into effect on 1 January 2012, set out the minimum statutory requirements applicable to new buildings, and to existing buildings where new works, a material alteration or a material change of use is proposed.

  The requirements of Part M aim to ensure that regardless of age, size or disability:

  (a) new buildings other than dwellings (including multi-unit developments) are accessible and usable;

  (b) extensions to existing buildings other than dwellings are, where practicable, accessible and useable;

  (c) material alterations to existing buildings other than dwellings increase the accessibility and usability of existing buildings, where practicable;

  (d) certain changes of use to existing buildings other than dwellings increase the accessibility and usability of existing buildings, where practicable; and

  (e) new dwellings are visitable.

  Part M of the Building Regulations aims to foster an inclusive approach to the design and construction of the built environment. While the Part M requirements may be regarded as a statutory minimum level of provision, the accompanying technical guidance encourages building owners and designers to have regard to the design philosophy of universal design and to consider making additional provisions where practicable and appropriate.

  Sustainable Urban Housing: Design Standards for New Apartments Guidelines for Planning Authorities, published by my Department in December 2015, set nationally consistent minimum standards from a planning policy perspective, and do not preclude compliance with the requirements of Part M.   

  Where apartments are designed as living accommodation for people with specific needs e.g. a wheelchair user, specialist design and floor areas greater than minimum standards will be required.     

  While the latest iteration of Part M of the Building Regulations initially coincided with the general downturn in economic and construction activity, its positive effects on access and use in the built environment will now be seen more widely as economic recovery takes hold and construction activity continues to gather momentum and moves onto a sustainable footing. While I have no proposals to amend Part M at this point in time, the Building Regulations, including Part M requirements, are subject to ongoing review in the interests of safety and the well-being of persons in the built environment and to ensure that due regard is taken of changes in construction techniques, technological progress and innovation.   

County Development Plans

 241. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if there has been recent changes at European Parliament level that would affect the county developments plan of local authorities and in particular affect local need requirements for planning permission. [2588/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department is presently engaged in consultations with planning authorities regarding potential modifications required to the 2005 Planning Guidelines on Sustainable Rural Housing with a view to ensuring that rural housing policies and objectives contained in development plans comply with Article 43 (Freedom of Movement of People) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

On conclusion of these consultations, my Department will be engaging with the European Commission on proposed changes to the Guidelines, with a view to issuing updated Guidelines to planning authorities on the matter in due course.

Planning Issues

 242. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when a decision will be made on an application submitted to his Department by Mayo County Council to develop a strategic development zone at Ireland West Airport, Knock; the reason for the delay in the decision making; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2623/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I can confirm that my Department has received a proposal from Mayo County Council, seeking Government approval to designate Ireland Airport West, Knock County Mayo as a Strategic Development Zone under Section 166 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended).

My Department has engaged with the Department of Tourism, Transport and Sport in relation to this matter, including in relation to related issues concerning wider aviation and land use policy and landside development at airports in general. I anticipate that this engagement will be finalised shortly, with a view to the consideration of the proposal being concluded later this Spring.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

 243. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will provide a breakdown of the 5,280 social housing units provided in 2016 (details supplied); if he will provide a further breakdown of the leased units in terms of whether the units will be owned by councils or AHBs at the end of the lease term or if they will be owned by the private sector; if all 5,280 social housing units are now tenanted; and if not, the number that have not been tenanted. [2635/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Government has set out ambitious targets for the delivery of social housing supports over the lifetime of Rebuilding Ireland. Last year, over 18,300 social housing supports were provided across a range of delivery programmes. Within this, preliminary data show that around 5,280 new social houses were either purchased, leased, remediated or built by local authorities and approved housing bodies across the country using a range of funding mechanisms and delivery programmes.

  My Department publishes a wide range of statistical information on housing delivery and these are available on the Department’s website at the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision.   

  The information on the website is up to date as of the end of quarter 3 2016; information for the full year of 2016 is currently being finalised and will be published shortly.   

  On completion of units through whatever delivery means, their final tenanting is then a matter for the local authorities directly. In all cases there should be no undue delay between the completion of units and completion of the tenanting process.

Departmental Projects

 244. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the potential investment projects his Department put forward to the Department of Finance task force report for the European Fund for Strategic Investment. [2677/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The following table sets out the potential projects submitted by my Department to the Department of Finance in November 2014 in respect of the task force report for the European Fund for Strategic Investment.    

Project Implementing Agency Description Total Investment (€m)
Social Housing Local Authorities Social Housing- 1 ,500 units over three years 250.00
Retrofit Local Authority Housing Stock Local Authorities Energy Efficiency Measure Reduce Carbon Footprint, retrofit 2,000 apartments 100.00


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