'Use it or lose it' law to free up land for houses
Friday February 16th 2007
LOCAL authorities are to be given wide-ranging powers allowing them to seize undeveloped landbanks from property speculators for a fraction of the market price.
Under a 'use it or lose it' regime announced yesterday, developers sitting on land zoned for housing and serviced with roads and sewerage systems will be forced to apply for planning permission to build new homes or risk losing the land.
The new laws would allow county councils to issue a compulsory purchase order for the lands and pay 20pc less than the market value.
The move comes because the department believes there is almost 15,000 hectares of zoned and serviced land available, sufficient to build 460,000 homes, which is not being built on because developers are waiting for it to increase in price.
Under new legislation currently being drafted local authorities will be asked to identify areas of towns and cities which should be developed.
If a landowner in a 'development zone' refuses to submit a planning application, the council can compulsorily purchase their lands and develop housing themselves.
"There's been a large investment by the taxpayer in infrastructure. We want to see the land that is serviced to be built on as quickly as possible," said Environment Minister Dick Roche.
But the plans have been criticised by the Irish Home Builders Association, which said last night that none of its members were sitting on ready-to-go landbanks.
Given the demand for housing, no developer was going to tie-up capital in an unused landbank. In fact, many of its members were waiting for planning permission for unserviced sites, a spokesman for the association said. "In our experience there's no developer holding onto land," Hubert Fitzpatrick said.
"In the current climate, they want to build."
A new house purchase scheme for people living in council housing was also announced by Housing Minister Noel Ahern.
The Incremental Purchase scheme will allow local authority householders to purchase a minimum stake of 20pc in their new home when it's allocated, and then pay extra rent of 2pc of the house price every year to build up their equity.
Â© Irish Independent