Council help for housing scheme

by Gazette Reporter

A COOPERATIVE housing scheme could be on the cards in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown.

A commitment was made by the council to identify potential sites to be used for such a scheme, either free of charge or at a very low cost.

Tom McHugh, director of housing and community at Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, said the council could not be a partner in any proposed housing development because, as a funding stream for various housing programmes, it would be inappropriate for it to be a sponsor or partner in the scheme.

McHugh went on to say: “The housing department will support any such scheme but it is necessary for qualifying applicants to form a cooperative or an approved housing body themselves before the council could consider the disposal of a site for it.

“It would also be the responsibility of that body to secure funding or financing, and to obtain the required planning permission and building and fire safety and other certificates.”

Cllr Denis O’Callaghan (Lab) said the definition of the cooperative housing scheme that they have in mind was one where “people would build their own homes as a cooperative with help from the council to identify sites or land for this purpose.

“The next port of call would be to identify suitable people who would be interested. It would not be a big scheme, but would have around 12 to 14 dwellings.

“It’s an attractive scheme for applicants with an income who would be interested in building and designing their own homes,” he said.

Cllr Jane Dillon Byrne (Lab) said: “I think the idea is brilliant, and hope a coterie of applicants can be found to form a cooperative and progress the idea with the council.”

This sentiment was echoed by her party colleague, Cllr Niamh Bhreathnach, who said: “The Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown brand could act as a leader in this type of housing.”

Cllr Victor Boyhan (Ind) said council resources in the form of its engineers and other experts could be used to help such a scheme along, as it is a non-profit initiative.

He said: “This is a call for us all to work together and use the expertise of the council.”

Cllr Boyhan also asked the county manager about idle land in the council’s possession that might be used for a cooperative housing scheme.

He said: “We’ve land with no plans for it [which is] zoned for residential.”

In response, Tom McHugh said: “If the council has borrowed money to buy those sites for housing purposes, the only way we can recoup the borrowed costs is to get a Department of the Environment-funded capital programme scheme done.

“[Because of this] we won’t be able to give those sites which are for our own construction programme to any cooperative programme.”

However, he said the council are now going to look at the disposal of land or a site either for free or for a nominal cost [for a cooperative housing scheme].

He said: “I do have one or two sites in mind that we [the council] don’t owe any money on.”

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