We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Sam Boal/
Govt Plan

Affordable and social homes, tackling vacant sites: Key points from the major new housing plan

The new housing plan launched today allocates €4 billion annual investment in housing.

LAST UPDATE | 2 Sep 2021

THE GOVERNMENT IS aiming to create 300,000 new homes by the end of the decade, with more than half to come from the private sector.

A new housing plan launched today sets out how the government intends to shape Ireland’s housing landscape over the next ten years.

The “Housing For All” plan, which outlines targets for new supply, allocates €4 billion annual investment in housing.

The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Green Party leader say the government will:

  • “Spend unprecedented levels of Exchequer money to provide social and affordable housing”
  • “Introduce new incentives to encourage home building in suitable locations”
  • “Bring in taxes to galvanize the greater use of zoned land and vacant properties”
  • “And release State-owned land for residential construction.”

Here are some of the key points from the major new plan.

New builds

The government is aiming to create 300,000 homes by the end of 2030, with more than half – 156,000 – coming from the private sector.

The remainder is set to be made up of 90,000 social homes, 36,000 affordable homes, and 18,000 cost rental homes.

On average, over 33,000 homes will be built each year, rising to 40,000 by 2030, according to the plan.

Housing output plan Housing For All plan Housing For All plan

Some of the space for those homes will come by transferring State land to the Land Development Agency.

In particular, 15,000 homes aimed at helping to “revitalise urban centres” will be created on transferred land.

Most of the land that is currently planned for transfer to the LDA is located in Dublin, with some in Limerick, Cork and Galway.

The LDA is tasked with co-ordinating development of public land for affordable housing in Ireland.

It has been proposed as a fix to Ireland’s housing supply crisis by overseeing the use of State lands for the construction of 150,000 homes over the next 20 years.

Changes to planning permission processes are also set out with a view to increasing housing supply.

There are 70,000 to 80,000 non-activated planning permissions across the country, including 40,000 in the Dublin area, some of which is because of viability issues where the cost makes it “uneconomical” to build.

To address that, a Croí Cónaithe (Cities) Fund will be established to “encourage greater activation of existing permissions”.

The fund should help to stimulate the activation of existing planning permissions for apartment developments with four floors or more that are above certain density thresholds. The apartments would be for sale to owner occupiers.

Under the Planning and Development Act 2000, developers currently need to use 10% of zoned residential land for social and affordable homes.

That requirement is increasing from 10% to 20% and will now also include provision for affordable and cost-rental housing.

At a press conference, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that currently there are “not enough homes being built and a generation of people are demoralised and close to despair on the issue”.

He said the plan includes “fundamental changes to our planning and land use system” and that it seeks to address the challenges facing “first-time buyers, renters, low income households, people experiencing homelessness, people trading up and rightsizing, [and] people starting again in life”.

Buying a home

For first-time buyers, a new Affordable Purchase Scheme should see local authorities making homes available at an average purchase price of around €250,000.

Additionally, a new First Home shared-equity scheme between the State and banks that participate is aimed at making up the difference between the cost of a home and the maximum available mortgage from a bank.

The First Home scheme will be available nationally, as opposed to the Affordable Purchase Scheme, which is on a local basis.

The Local Authority Home Loan will be expanded so that single people who have a gross income of up to €65,000 in the Greater Dublin Area, Cork and Galway will be eligible for the loan, with a reduced interest rate.

Currently the maximum amount a single person can earn to be eligible for the scheme is €50,000.

People who are divorced or separated will also be able to apply for housing schemes.

“A ‘fresh start’ principle will apply to applications to State-run affordable housing and loan schemes,” the plan outlines.

“This means that people who are divorced/separated and no longer have a financial interest in the family home, or who have undergone insolvency proceedings, will be eligible to apply for State schemes.” 


The building of 10,000 social homes each year forms a primary part of the government’s plans to “eradicate” homelessness by 2030.

Through an updated ‘Housing First Implementation Plan’, 1,200 tenancies should be provided between 2022 and 2026.

These would be for people who have a history of sleeping rough or long-term use of emergency accommodation and with complex needs.

A National Homeless Action Committee will be established by the end of this year to “ensure better coherence and coordination of homeless related services in delivering policy measures and actions”.

The government intends to increase the “housing options available to older people to facilitate ageing in place, with dignity and independence”.

Vacant land

Under the plan, new measures to use vacant lands for residential housing are being introduced.

Primarly, that includes a new tax to replace the existing Vacant Site Levy.

The tax will apply where “current suitable residential development zoning has not been acted on”.

Local authorities will be able to purchase and resell up to 2,500 vacant properties in their areas.

If necessary, compulsory purchase orders can be used to acquire the vacant property.

A new Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund will be used towards servicing sites for new homes in regional towns and villages and refurbishing vacant houses.


For renters, the 2,000 cost rental homes each year should be at least 25% below what they would be on the private market.

Speaking today, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said that the “introduction of cost rental, a new tenure in Ireland, will result in thousands of individuals and families renting safe and secure homes at rates at least 25% below open market value”.

The plan outlines that “under cost rental, homes will be provided at rents that are set to cover only the cost of financing, building, managing and maintaining the homes, calculated over a minimum period of 40 years”.

A minimum energy rating requirement for private rental properties will be introduced “where feasible”.

The plan says that “security of tenure will be strengthened for tenants, subject to legal advice, by legislating for tenancies of indefinite duration”

“Oversight of tenancies will also be strengthened by the introduction of an annual registration process.”

New controls are to be brought forward on short-term lettings that would require holiday and short-term lets to register with Fáilte Ireland to try to ensure the availability of long-term residences.

With reporting by Cónal Thomas and Christina Finn

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel