DESPITE the knock-on effects of the Covid pandemic, inflation and labour shortages, Limerick City and County Council is on track to exceed its housing targets under the Government’s ‘Housing for All’ plan.
That was the message delivered by council chief executive Pat Daly when he appeared before the Oireachtas Housing Committee yesterday (Tuesday).
The target for Limerick is to deliver 2,693 homes by 2026 and Mr Daly said that the council had made progress in a number of key areas.
“Currently, we have 1,220 homes approved in the system at various stages, for example, feasibility, planning, pre-tender. This is 45 per cent of our five-year target approved in the first year of ‘Housing for All’.
“We have been addressing vacant and derelict units and carried out compulsory purchase orders (CPO) on 145 properties in the last three years, with a further 21 applications for consent currently awaiting determination by An Bord Pleanála,” the council chief executive added.
Among the problems highlighted to the Oireachtas committee was the difficulty in determining the cost of affordable homes at a time when market prices are low and costs are high.
They were also told that it can take four years from the planning stage to the delivery of new social homes and that judicial reviews can add years to this build time.
In his statement to the committee, Mr Daly said that Limerick City and County Council has conducted 4,200 inspections of derelict and vacant properties since 2019, and issued 1,500 statutory notices on property owners.
“The Council takes a very robust approach when dealing with dereliction, but finds that owners will usually engage with officials and, accordingly, a significant amount of housing stock has been brought back into use.
Mr Daly said that 388 properties have been entered in the statutory Derelict Sites Register where owners do not engage or cannot be found. A levy applies to such properties and the council has collected €270,000 since 2018.
The council has sold 19 of the compulsorily acquired properties on the open market since 2019 with a further 57 for sale or at sale agreed stage.
There are nine properties on the Vacant Sites Register and the council has collected €300,000 from a total of €1.766 million owed.
Mr Daly said that all outstanding levies are actively pursued by the council’s debt management unit.