LDA launches Report on Relevant Public Land

Report on relevant public land
  • Total of 83 state-owned sites identified with the development potential for up to 67,000 affordable homes
  • First-of-its-kind expert analysis to serve as a guide for stakeholders to understand the extent of state land that could be used to develop new homes and sustainable communities
  • Report comes as the LDA’s short-term delivery pipeline already includes 5,000 affordable homes on public land whose access has already been granted and Project Tosaigh which is due to deliver an additional 5,000 cost rental and affordable purchased homes by 2026

The Land Development Agency (LDA) has today launched its first report on the potential of state-owned land to deliver affordable and social housing into the future.

The Report on Relevant Public Land identifies 83 state-owned land sites and assesses them as having the development potential for up to 67,000 homes in the medium to long-term.

This figure is separate to the LDA’s existing near-term delivery pipeline, which already includes 5,000 affordable homes, either under construction or in design and planning, plus an additional 5,000 affordable purchase and cost rental homes through its Project Tosaigh initiative.

The report, the first-of-its-kind, is designed to serve as a consolidated, coherent guide for stakeholders to understand the potential for state-owned lands and to create a development pipeline of sites for affordable and social housing into the future.

The sites were chosen and have been assessed based on their potential ability to deliver affordable housing, facilitate the creation of new sustainable communities, and add to existing ones. All are state-owned and are either under the control of local authorities, other state bodies or commercial semi-state companies.

Much of the land involved is brownfield and located in existing urban centres in cities and towns with strong public transport links, suitable infrastructure, and other facilities nearby. Some of the sites are currently in use by public bodies, so any plans by Government to potentially release them for housing development will require consultation.

The LDA has advised that up to 9,760 of the potential homes identified in the report could be delivered in the next five to ten years, subject to the land involved being made available, due diligence and the planning process. These homes are proposed on Class 1 public lands which are classified as having the least known constraints.

A further 17,440 homes are proposed on Class 2 sites, which are considered to have medium to long-term potential, while there are a further 39,710 on long-term, Class 3 sites, bringing the total potential number of homes to 66,910.

The LDA was required by legislation to submit the first Report on Relevant Public Land to Government by March 31st and must now provide updated reports at least every two years. The report was submitted and noted at today’s Cabinet meeting. Relevant public land is defined in the Land Development Agency Act 2021 as land in all cities, towns and urban centres with a population exceeding 10,000 that is owned by the state or state agencies and bodies.

All of the sites identified by the LDA’s planning division for this first report are located in the five main cities – Dublin (38), Cork (14), Limerick (6), Galway (8) and Waterford (4) – and in five regional centres – Sligo (4), Letterkenny (2), Dundalk (4), Drogheda (1) and Athlone (2).

These ten areas were purposefully chosen to ensure a priority focus on urban centres of greatest need and projected future growth, and the public lands identified involve the areas with greatest potential. In total the lands assessed account for approximately 75% of all relevant public land identified nationally. Subsequent reports will examine the housing potential of state-owned sites in other relevant public land areas, of which there are currently 38.

Sites listed in the report include Conyngham Road Bus Depot and Sandyford Mint in Dublin; the ESB Networks premises on Sarsfield Road in Cork, land at Galway Harbour and the North Docks Bus Depot in Waterford.

The report will now be subject to further consideration by the Government and the LDA. It should be noted that many of the lands identified are in use by public bodies and any move to develop affordable or social housing on them will be subject to consideration of existing uses, due diligence, consultation, and the normal planning processes. The report cannot and does not seek to mandate the transfer or repurposing of the land identified as this is a policy matter for Government.

It is also recognised that there are complexities with many of the sites and substantial further work will be required to unlock their potential including stakeholder engagement. This process is likely to be complex and any development projects will take varying lengths of time to complete depending on the level of constraints involved. Some of the sites may require rezoning.

John Coleman, Chief Executive of the LDA, said:

“The publication of the Report on Relevant Public Land is an important milestone for the LDA. It identifies state-owned land that has the potential to be repurposed to deliver a pipeline of affordable homes into the future. This report and subsequent updates will greatly assist the LDA, Government and State agencies to locate affordable housing and public facilities in the optimum locations. The LDA is committed to working closely with the public bodies involved to find common ground for the release of land for affordable housing purposes and for the common good.”

The LDA encourages all stakeholders to treat this as the first step in an on-going process with continuous review as per the requirement of the legislation. It is hoped that it will assist in the national debate on land use and will lead to the identification of locations where new affordable homes can be built.”

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien said:

“This report is a crucial part of the Government’s work to ensure a supply of affordable housing in areas where it is needed most. The LDA has been resourced to plan and deliver affordable homes on state-owned land and this strategic report will enable the Government and my Department to plan ahead. I intend to review the report closely and work with the LDA and the public bodies involved to identify high potential sites that could be prioritised as part of the LDA’s ongoing delivery pipeline.”

Dearbhla Lawson, Head of Strategic Planning in the LDA, said:

“This report identifies the potential to utilise well-located public land to deliver not just affordable housing, but to contribute to the creation of sustainable communities and support the vitality and viability of our cities and towns. It is a strategic approach and important first step in identifying the possibilities for the future use of public land in the public interest. We look forward to engaging with our partners about the potential for public lands to help deliver more affordable housing and sustainable communities into the future.”

About the LDA

The LDA’s is the state’s affordable housing delivery body. Its work on the Report on Relevant Public Land has been carried out at the same time as the agency has progressed a series of housing projects on existing state-owned sites.

Progress on housing delivery by the LDA on publicly owned lands

The LDA continues its key mandate to deliver social and affordable housing on state lands. It currently has planning permission for 2,243 homes on public land. In 2022 progress included ground being broken at the former HSE site, St Kevin’s Hospital in Cork, with the first of 265 homes to be delivered in 2024. Planning approval was received recently for 817 homes at a site at Castlelands in Balbriggan and 345 homes in Hacketstown in Skerries. The LDA also has permission for 219 homes at Devoy Barracks in Naas, Co. Kildare.

Working with Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, the LDA is constructing 597 homes at Shanganagh in Shankhill in Dublin, with the first homes expected in 2024. This is one of Ireland’s largest housing development projects. A similar project at St Teresa’s Gardens involves the LDA working in partnership with Dublin City Council.

In addition, planning applications are awaiting a decision for the Central Mental Hospital site in Dundrum (977 homes) and St Teresa’s Gardens (543 homes) in Dublin City Centre which if approved, will add 1,520 units to the delivery pipeline. A further 1,500 homes are currently in the design and development phase.

In addition to delivering homes on public land, the LDA is overseeing Project Tosaigh, an initiative where the LDA steps in to purchase stalled or unviable housing projects and then makes the homes available as either cost rental or affordable purchase. Under this scheme, the LDA is on course to deliver 5,000 homes by 2026.

Housing already delivered or in the process of being delivered under Project Tosaigh includes affordable purchase homes in Mallow, Co Cork (92 in total) and Kilbarry, Co Waterford (95 in total). The LDA is also in the progress of delivering 247 cost-rental homes in Hansfield in Dublin 15, 142 in Archers Wood in Delgany and 95 in Parklands, Citywest in Dublin. Further projects are due to be announced soon and the LDA has a strong delivery pipeline of affordable homes for 2023 and beyond.

The full Report on Relevant Public Land is available here.

About the Report on Relevant Public Land

The Report on Relevant Public Land is a statutory report required by Section 52 of the Land Development Agency Act 2021. Under the Act, the LDA is obliged to provide the Government with a report on “relevant public land”, which comprises land owned by “relevant public bodies”.

Relevant public land is land owned by state bodies in settlements with a population of greater than 10,000 persons rounded to the nearest 500. There are currently some 48 settlements meeting this criteria, ranging from Gorey, Co. Wexford (population: 9,822) to Dublin City and suburbs (population: 1,173,179).

The Report on Relevant Public Land will comprise multiple phases, of which this is the first. The LDA will provide further reports at least every two years to Government. To ensure a priority focus on areas of greatest need and projected future growth, this first report is focused on the five cities - Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford - and the five regional growth centres - Drogheda, Dundalk, Athlone, Letterkenny and Sligo.

In total, these cities and growth areas account for approximately 75% of the relevant public land identified nationally. This is consistent with the National Planning Framework objectives to achieve compact and sustainable growth and balanced regional development.

The remaining 38 settlements with a population of over 10,000 will be considered as part of the LDA’s next report to Government, due in 2024.

To produce this report, the LDA examined the state-owned sites in the ten key urban areas using a filtering and classification system. All sites not suitable for the delivery of new homes were removed and the remainder were assessed against criteria such as zoning, flood risk and proximity to transport and other facilities including schools and retail developments.

Class 1 to 3 indicate which parcels of land, in the LDA’s assessment, involve less or more constraints when it comes to the potential development of housing.

Class 1 sites are regarded as less constrained with potential for progression to development for residential delivery, subject to due process and should a decision be taken by Government to act on them. Class 2 sites are regarded as appropriate for development subject to overcoming constraints. Class 3 are generally large and complex long-term sites that are regarded to have the potential for residential development but involve several existing constraints that generally require a framework or masterplan to plan for phased redevelopment.

High level estimates for the number of potential new homes, indicative costs of development and of infrastructure are all included in the report. The costs listed in the report include the development cost of the sites but do not include any costs involved in the purchase of land or relocating any existing premises or infrastructure or leaseholder interest from those sites if such action is required. The development costs are calculated estimates based on existing costs and will require review and updating over time.

It should be noted that not all of the sites listed in the report will ultimately be developed for affordable housing. Many are currently in part or operational use and some of the sites may require rezoning. The public bodies involved may seek to use the sites for other purposes or to retain them in their existing state. By including sites in the report, the LDA is not stating that they should be developed, but rather inviting consideration by Government of their potential use for affordable and social housing delivery.

The report is a statutory report and advisory in nature. Its findings will be subject to future Government consideration and instruction. In certain cases, the Government can require public bodies to sell certain land sites to the LDA if such a decision is made. The LDA could also work with the relevant public bodies involved to deliver housing if this was the chosen approach. In some cases, the existing use of the sites involved could be maintained and housing could be co-located on the land in question.

Given the housing affordability requirements placed on public land through the Land Development Agency Act, long-term cost rental and affordable purchase housing, as legislated for in the Affordable Housing Act 2021, are the forms of housing that are likely to be developed on any state land released. In certain cases, this would determine the amount the LDA would need to pay for sites if the Government decided they should be acquired by the LDA for affordable housing purposes. Some social housing may also be included on certain sites.

Any future projects identified by and acted on through the report will be subject to the normal statutory planning processes. In cases where plans are already developed to deliver affordable housing on any of the sites identified in the report and the LDA is not already involved, it will be available to work with the relevant public body and will be happy to do so if required.

Delivering housing on any of the sites will be strongly dependent on enabling efficient and timely access to and acquisition of the lands identified, which is for Government to determine. The LDA has no power to compel landowning bodies to provide access to land for the purposes of carrying out development.

If land access is provided, timeframes for development are fundamentally lengthy, with even the most straight-forward sites requiring approximately 6 years to be taken from undeveloped to housing being delivered. These are industry standard timeframes and involve design development, public consultation, planning approval, procurement and construction.

Some of the sites listed in the report have already been identified for use for affordable housing through the existing Housing For All strategy. They were included in the report as they meet the definition of relevant public land and were among the sites with the highest potential in the urban areas focused on. These sites are identified as Housing for All sites in the report.

The Report on Relevant Public Land was completed by the LDA with support from Jacobs, the professional services firm.

Key Information:

  • This report, prepared in compliance with the requirements of Section 52 of the LDA Act 2021, is the first of its type to be prepared in Ireland. The LDA acknowledges that updates and additions to the report will be required in future iterations. All stakeholders are encouraged to identify any error or omissions, or to provide commentary at [email protected].
  • The report represents an early and important step in identifying land in public ownership with the potential for affordable housing development in key locations.
  • The report will be subject to future Government consideration and instruction.
  • Many of the land sites identified are currently in use by public bodies.
  • Initial engagement has been sought where possible with relevant state bodies. More detailed work, including feasibility studies, due diligence and further detailed assessment, will be needed to determine the extent and potential for future development on the land identified.
  • Numbers indicating development potential and costs are provided at a high-level indicative range and are subject to change, following due diligence.
  • The timeframes for development of land are lengthy. Even the most straightforward land holdings can require up to six years from access being granted to housing being delivered. Six years is an industry standard timeframe and covers design development, public consultation, planning approval, procurement and construction delivery. It does not include delays caused by factors such as appeals or judicial reviews of planning decisions.
  • Infrastructure costs are also provided as a high-level indicative range and are subject to change. Detailed due diligence would be required should an area progress to development to determine the exact requirement and cost of infrastructure.

Background information:

The Land Development Agency Act 2021 required the LDA to establish and maintain a register of all relevant public land and land owned by the agency or a subsidiary.

The register, which can be accessed on the LDA’s website at https://lda.ie/public-lands/register-of-relevant-lands, is a significant development and was the starting point for the Report on Relevant Public Land. The register serves as a strategic mapping tool, supporting land management and helping to build an understanding of the extent and location of public lands. It can also support spatial planning and urban rejuvenation and enhance transparency regarding public land interests. The register was central to informing the Report on Relevant Public Land.

The LDA has also completed a national state lands database, which includes all land owned by the state nationally and which is also available online on the LDA website.

  • Relevant public land is defined in the LDA Act, as all land within a census town owned by a relevant public body. A census town is any urban area with a population over 10,000 accurate to the latest census information.
  • A relevant public body is defined in the LDA Act to include Schedule 1 bodies - non-commercial public bodies / agencies and government departments; Schedule 2 bodies - commercial public bodies / agencies; and Local Authorities.

The LDA Act 2021 allows for land to be treated in different ways depending on what schedule the owning body is in. The Act states that a relevant public body shall not dispose of relevant public land unless it has given notice and offered the land for sale to the LDA. In the case of Schedule 1 bodies, the government may decide that relevant public land identified in the Report on Relevant Public Land shall be acquired by the LDA.

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