Greens welcome ‘long overdue’ housing plan, but criticise ‘missed opportunities’

The Green Party today welcomed the publication of the Government’s Action Plan for Housing, saying that steps to address the housing crisis were long overdue, but criticised a number of missed opportunities in the plan.

Speaking following the publication of the plan, Green Party Spokesperson on Environment, Cllr Malcolm Noonan said: “We broadly welcome the publication of the Government’s Action Plan for Housing. The time for talking about this issue is over, and urgent action is required.

“The Government acknowledge that previous efforts in this area did not go nearly far enough, and we’re glad to see that the new Government have taken on board some of the suggestions from the Housing Committee, and from Opposition while drafting this plan.

If the headline figures in the plan are delivered on, it will go a long way in solving the current crisis, and we will support the Government’s attempts to carry it out.

“We do have a number of concerns, however. Firstly, there is still an over-reliance on the private rented sector and private developers to provide social housing, and we need to see local authorities and the state play a bigger role. There was also an opportunity to strengthen tenancy rights and security of tenure for those in the private rented sector, which was missed.

“It is disappointing that the opportunity to use private and semi-state pension funds to contribute to financing housing has not been addressed. Rental housing has the potential to provide a stable source of income for such funds.”

Cllr David Healy, of Fingal County Council, said: “The decision to bypass local authorities on certain planning applications and going straight to An Bord Pleanala is wrong. Local authority planning decisions are already governed by strict time limits and there are thousands of outstanding planning permissions for residential units, and enough zoned land for tens of thousands more.

“The Government missed an opportunity to put an end to speculative land hoarding, as we see in certain areas of the country, through the introduction of a Site Value Tax.

“Finally, we also have concerns about the proposal for new tax credits for first-time buyers. What we saw before was an increase in demand and house prices on the back of such a credit – we don’t want a repeat of that.