Land Development Agency to begin buying private sites for quick delivery of public housing

State body to expand activity so public, social and affordable housing projects can move quickly to construction

The Land Development Agency, the State body charged with delivering affordable homes and social housing on public land, is to begin a programme of purchasing privately owned sites that can be utilised for quick delivery of public housing.

The departure is expected to be announced on Friday. It will mean the agency seeks expressions of interest from landowners and developers willing to sell sites on which public, social and affordable housing projects can move quickly to construction.

The programme of land acquisitions will be open to all landowners, but will focus initially on large sites, with existing planning permission for 200-plus homes, near the five main cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford. It is expected to be of particular interest to developers sitting on large sites, either in anticipation of increasing value, or because they lack the finance or capacity to build them out.

Sites will be assessed according to criteria such as transport links, development viability and building cost efficiencies, according to people familiar with the scheme. Sites close to existing State-owned lands will be of particular interest to the agency.


The departure marks a further broadening of the agency’s remit. The State body was established to deliver affordable and social homes on public land but has expanded to include Project Tosaigh, which has meant its intervention to purchase stalled or unviable projects, with the intention of making the homes available as cost rentals or affordable purchase.

It is expected that the Coalition will make significant further funding available to underwrite the costs of the new scheme. Any new homes delivered by the agency under the initiative will be in addition to the 5,000 it expected to provide under its original remit, and the extra 5,000 targeted under the Project Tosaigh.

The agency says it is “working with public bodies to identify State-owned lands suitable for acquisition and the advancement of housing delivery”. It is also involved in plans for new communities and housing delivery on several strategic State-owned parcels of land, it says.

The agency has planning permission for more than 3,500 homes on State-owned lands with many projects already under construction, including 265 at St Kevin’s Hospital in Cork, almost 600 on a site in Shanaganagh, more than 800 units in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, 850 on the former central mental hospital site in Dundrum, south Dublin and 543 at St Teresa’s Gardens in the capital’s south inner city in partnership with Dublin City Council.

A further 1,500 homes are in the design and development phase, it says. But there have been concerns in Government over the pace at which the projects are being delivered.

The agency is also expected to agree a deal with the National Asset Management Agency for a site in Clongriffin, Dublin, which will eventually accommodate 2,000 homes.

Asked about the plans, agency chief executive John Coleman said: “The LDA is seeking to maximise every opportunity to deliver affordable housing. We believe it is possible to acquire sites in the country’s main cities at costs that allow for the development of affordable housing, particularly in cases where we can deploy the LDA’s expertise and experience at scale on projects that will deliver the right housing in the right place.”

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times