Council land banks need to be part of housing solution
‘ THE land banks held by Louth County Council need to be part of any housing solution by central government’, says Sinn Féin’s Ruairí Ó Murchú.
‘Sinn Féin does not think much of Minister Eoghan Murphy’s deflective proposals to strip County Councils of powers to deal with emergency accommodation and our planned motion of no confidence in him is well highlighted.
‘ The government’s idea of a Land Development Agency would only be worthwhile if adequately resourced and operating greater, more realistic home building targets.
‘Many of these land banks were bought by Louth County Council for building social and affordable housing, as was required by the government of the time. Not only are they not being built on but to date Louth County Council’s finances are being strangled by paying interest on loans on these lands. Next year the cost of this will be an estimated €1.5 million on loans of about €60 million.’ Cllr Ó Murchú described the situation as ‘ ludicrous’.
‘We have a responsibility to the people of Louth to ensure their budgets are being used properly and appropriately. People are entitled to value for money and it’s unjustifiable to have over €1.5 million taken out of your budget before you even start and have nothing to show for it.’
Louth County Council is also facing the daunting prospect at the end of the year of having to deal with the capital element of some of these loans.
Some of these land banks were purchased at the height of the boom and are worth a lot less now making it unviable for the land to be sold off according to Louth County Council. Councillors were told at the recent Dundalk Municipal District meeting in Carlingford that of the last batches of land bought by LCC were purchased for €1.3 million per acre. These same lands would be lucky to fetch €400,000 per acre in today’s market leaving LCC ‘on the hook’ for the outstanding debt. LCC officials stated they have used this situation to force the issue with Central Government and will continue to make representations to them.
The government in tandem with Louth County Council needs to assess which lands are most suitable for necessary home building and to put plans in operation. If lands are not economically or any other way viable for housing, they should be looked at from a point of view of IDA development or some other solution
Meanwhile commenting on the recent homeless figures was party colleague, Gerry Adams TD pointed out that ‘ There are now more citizens homeless in this state than the combined populations of Ardee, Castlebellingham, Dunleer, Jenkinstown and Tullyallen’.
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has challenged local TDs, irrespective of their party allegiance, to support Sinn Féin’s motion of no confidence in the Housing Minister Eoin Murphy when it comes before the Dáil in the next few weeks.
The Sinn Féin Louth TD said: ‘ The government’s housing policy, supported by Fianna Fáil, is failing the tens of thousands of households on the waiting list, the almost ten thousand men, women and children who are homeless, the many more who are paying exorbitant rents, and those who want to buy their own home.
Cllrs Antoin Watters, Anne Campbell and Ruairí Ó Murchú at last week’s meeting of Dundalk Municipal Area in Carlingford