Rural development appraisal in Ireland has been “dismantled” by the Government, according to a new report.
The report, compiled by the Irish Independent, said the move was “shocking” as it showed that the Government’s plan to “reduce the amount of affordable housing in Ireland” had “failed”.
In a statement, the Department of Finance said it “takes the matter seriously” and that “every effort is being made to bring it to a conclusion”.
However, the report found that the State’s Housing Finance Agency had failed to provide accurate information to the Government about how much housing was being built in the State and that its planning department had “failing to produce a full and accurate assessment of the impact of these changes”.
The report also found that “in some cases” the State had “under-counted” its own housing requirements, “inappropriately” allocated housing to those with higher levels of housing need and “inappropriately” allowed landlords to increase their rents without informing tenants or their local housing association.
“The Department of Housing, Housing Executive and Housing Services (DHFS) are currently engaged in an extensive assessment of how these changes affect the housing stock in rural Ireland,” the statement said.
“This review will include examining the impacts of these amendments on the rural housing stock.”
In an article published in The Irish Independent in February, former Housing Minister Simon Coveney criticised the report’s findings.
He said that the report “fails to properly assess the impact and size of the increase in demand for affordable housing that will be triggered by the new rules”.
Mr Covenery also questioned the quality of the information the State Department provided, and said it was “not clear” that the information had been properly vetted.
The Independent also reported that the Department was also “rethinking” the role of the Rural Development Agency (RDA), which had “played a central role in ensuring that the housing sector is built to housing standards”.
Mr Galway TD for Mayo, Clare Daly, also criticised the new measures, saying the Government “should be doing more to encourage and build affordable housing”.
“There is no doubt the Government has failed the country in this regard,” she said.
The Government has also agreed to introduce new requirements on private landlords, who will now be required to inform tenants about the amount and location of affordable apartments.
The RDA was also asked to “review and update” its planning guidelines, and the department said it would do so “immediately”.
“This has a major impact on our rural housing supply,” Mr Coveler said.
Minister for the Environment, Marjorie Castlemaine, said that while the new proposals would bring a “big bang” in the way housing was built in Ireland, the Government must “get on with delivering the housing that we need”.
“It is important that we take the steps necessary to bring rural development to its full potential,” she told the Irish Times.
Ms Castlemain added that the changes were also needed in other sectors of the economy, such as energy and transport. “
There will be a real change in the rural population.”
Ms Castlemain added that the changes were also needed in other sectors of the economy, such as energy and transport.
“What we need is a strategy that has a real economic focus and that puts our needs ahead of the needs of those in rural areas,” she added.
The Irish government has announced a range of measures to address the housing shortage in rural places.
The Housing Executive will be set up to help “provide a common platform for the delivery of the housing needed in rural and regional Ireland”, with the Government also agreeing to a “transition framework” that will see the Government reclassify as rural.