2,000 serviced sites to be made available by 2025

The ROI government plans to make serviced sites in regional towns and villages available to self-builders.

The ROI Department of Housing says a pilot programme will be initiated as part of a Croí Cónaithe (Towns) fund, to “facilitate the making available of some 2,000 sites for homes by 2025, depending upon demand, and to design support funding for the refurbishment of vacant properties,” a spokesperson for the department told Selfbuild.

The fund will service sites in regional towns and villages, to sell on to people who want to build their own home. The fund will also support the refurbishment of vacant houses.

The fund, part of the Housing For All government policy and related to the Town Centre First initiative, “will be launched in new few month’s time,” said the spokesperson. 

The Town Centre First policy was recently launched to combat dereliction and “breathe new life” into town centres.

Fund for serviced sites

The Department of Housing had flagged it would make serviced sites available to self-builders in June 2020. The scheme was due to be unveiled in the autumn of 2021 but now the Department of Housing says it be operational this year (2022).

Public infrastructure agencies, most notably Irish Water and ESB Networks, and local communities will work to provide serviced sites for housing.

This will help attract people to build their own homes and live in smaller towns and villages. “Such development will be incremental, small scale, walkable to and from the town/ village centre and will occur on sites that have access to adequate water supply and provision for disposal of domestic effluent,” said the spokesperson.

“The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage will be engaging with local authorities and other core partners in is developing an operational basis for this new fund.”

In NI, the Belfast Telegraph revealed the Housing Executive owns more than 300 acres of unused land that has development potential.

Sites hard to get

ROI local authorities are updating their County Development Plans (CDP) with many looking to restrict the amount of new homes built in the countryside.

For example in Kerry, the Irish Examiner reports planners are recommending development nodes or small clusters of housing centred around wastewater treatment plants as an alternative to one-off rural housing.

Building sites are becoming scarcer across ROI because of zoning regulations favouring one-off housing in towns. New builds on greenfield sites are therefore likely to be harder to get planning permission for.

A Kildare councillor, meanwhile, is looking to identify unoccupied buildings and sites to make sure they are put back into use. Kildare Now reports Cllr Bill Clear wants to place land on the vacant sites register if it’s not being used and make a submission on any rollover of permissions that have no development in five years.

The news comes as the Sunday Business Post reports on “chronic delays” by Irish Water in connecting new housing developments to freshwater mains and wastewater systems which are adding €6k to the price of new homes. That’s according to the Construction Industry Federation director general Tom Parlon.

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Written by Astrid Madsen

Astrid Madsen is the editor of the SelfBuild magazine. Email astrid.madsen@selfbuild.ie

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