Godfrey Hogan, Principal Consultant, Reddy Charlton, outlines the main provisions of the Land Development Agency Bill 2021.
On 05 February 2021, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, published the Land Development Agency Bill 2021. The broad driver of the Bill is for the Land Development Agency to engage in land assembly and to identify and utilise State lands to facilitate the delivery of affordable dwellings. As part of this arrangement, the Land Development Agency would have the power to enter into joint ventures with local authorities or other parties.
The Bill, if enacted, will seek to regulate relevant public land to increase the amount of land available for the provision of housing. The powers of the Land Development Agency (LDA) would include the following:
– Develop and regenerate relevant public land, and to develop and manage housing on that and other lands, including with other persons or bodies
– Provide services to local authorities to assist them in the performance of their functions relating to housing
– Establish and maintain a Register of Relevant Public Land to identify land that can be made available for housing
– Acquire relevant public land
– Compulsory purchase land
– Provide a requirement that a proportion of dwellings provided on relevant public land and former relevant public land be made available at a price below market price.
Section 4 (1) of the Land Development Agency Bill 2021provides that relevant public land is all land within a census town owned by a relevant public body. A relevant public body is defined as a local authority and a person or body specified in Schedules 1 and 2.
The key purposes of the Development Agency Bill 2021 are to:
- Enable measures to be taken to increase the supply of housing and, in particular, affordable and social housing
- Make available public land for housing
- Assist in the development of a sufficient supply of housing available for rent and purchase at an affordable price
- Establish appropriate mechanisms and collaborative structures between public and private bodies to develop relevant public land, land owned by the Agency, and land privately owned and identified as suitable for strategic and timely delivery of housing.
After reviewing the Bill, here is a useful summary of the key takeaways:
Functions of the Land Development Agency
The LDA has a wide variety of functions consistent with its remit to bring to market large-scale affordable housing. As such, its powers include identifying suitable public lands for development, liaising with local authorities, providing or assisting with site infrastructural works, preparation of masterplans, planning permissions and to enter into commercial contracts and other arrangements (including joint ventures) with local authorities or other parties to meet its mandate. This includes the establishment by the LDA of subsidiary designated activity companies (DACs). The LDA may borrow money to a maximum of €1.25bn. The LDA will be able to obtain grants from the Minister, funding from the National Treasury Management Agency through the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and loan facilities from the Housing Finance Agency.
Services to Local Authorities
The LDA can assist a local authority with the development of sites that are large scale and located in the area of a town that the population of which is equal to or greater than 30,000 people. Such services include site appraisals, preparation of masterplans, planning permissions, provision of infrastructure to service sites and provision of housing and cost rental housing. Where the LDA determines that it cannot provide the services sought by the local authority, it is open to the Minister, upon receipt of a report from the LDA, to direct the LDA to provide the services requested by the local authority.
Register and Acquisition of Relevant Public Land by Agency
The LDA shall establish and maintain a register of all relevant public land and land owned by the LDA. Members of the relevant public body shall co-operate with and provide every assistance to the LDA in the performance by the LDA of its functions relating to the relevant public land owned by the body. The LDA shall prepare and furnish a report to the Government on relevant public land and land owned by the LDA.
A relevant public body shall not dispose of relevant public land unless the body has given the Agency notice and firstly offered the land for sale to the LDA. The Government may direct the LDA to acquire land contained in the LDA’s report.
The LDA will have the power to acquire land compulsorily, to provide access to relevant public land or land owned by the Agency, or to facilitate the provision of roads, water or other services or utilities required by housing on relevant public land or land owned by the LDA. This would require the LDA to apply to a court for an acquisition order.
Requirement in relation to the development of dwellings on relevant public land and former relevant public land
A planning authority or Board of Appeal shall require as a condition to a grant of planning permission that the applicant enters into an agreement with the planning authority to provide for the building and transfer, on completion, to the ownership of the planning authority, or the ownership of persons nominated by the authority for the provision of cost rental dwellings or dwellings for sale, or to a combination of both, of dwellings comprising 50%, or such other percentage as the Minister may prescribe. The price shall be below the prevailing market price or market rent. However, the Minister may prescribe the price or a method of calculating the price and may include different prices and different methods according to different geographical or administrative areas.
The Land Development Agency Bill 2021 places large-scale affordable housing at the heart of what it is seeking to achieve. It is envisaged that the Land Development Agency, through working with local authorities and other third parties, should help drive the development of new homes. Such a collaboration of the various stakeholders would be welcome and represent an opportunity for all parties to pool together their resources towards tackling the housing shortage. It is expected that this Bill, together with the recent Affordable Housing Bill 2020, should bring about an acceleration in the delivery of new homes.
Godfrey Hogan is a principal consultant with Reddy Charlton. His expertise includes Construction and Property.
For further information on this or any other construction or property related topic, contact Godfrey Hogan by email at [email protected] or by phone at 01 661 9500.