Housing targets exceeded, with council to scale back buying in Kilkenny

The council does not engage in bidding where it might interfere with first-time buyers's chances

Sam Matthews

Reporter:

Sam Matthews

Email:

sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

KILKENNY

At a recent meeting of the council’s housing SPC, senior executive officer Martin Mullally said that acquisitions had been an integral part of housing delivery

Fewer existing houses will be acquired by Kilkenny County Council for its own housing stock this year with targets exceeded last year, and a shift in national policy directing funding elsewhere.

With 1,988 currently on the housing list here, the issue has caused concern for local councillors, some of whom have also said lack of services in certain areas is hampering new housing provision.

At a recent meeting of the council’s housing SPC, senior executive officer Martin Mullally said that acquisitions had been an integral part of housing delivery. However, at national level, the fund for acquisitions is reducing, and it will be far less this year.

Council policy has been to consider acquisitions where there is an area of demand, and priority is generally given to towns and villages where there are no constructions projects under way. It has also proven a useful strategy in areas where there is no further capacity for water and/or sewage to construct, and if a special need exists that the council cannot meet within its own stock. 

Cllr Fitzpatrick said it was "out there that the Department have told the council it can’t purchase". He asked if that meant the council could not buy a house that day.

“The housing section is trying to house people with their hands tied behind their backs,” he said.

Mr Mullally confirmed the council had exceeded its targets: “There will be some acquisitions but it will not be at the same level as last year,” he said.

Director of services for housing Mary Mulholland said the council had gone significantly over target, and had already a number of properties in the acquisition pipeline before there was any mention of targets.

Ms Mulholland said there was evidence that if the council were to buy a house in a certain area, it could interfere with the market. She said it was important not to interfere with people’s chances of accessing properties at a reasonable rate.

“Where there are other interested parties we take ourselves out and don’t engage in bidding so that we don’t interfere with any buyers — particularly first-time buyers,” she said.

Cllr Fitzpatrick also accused Irish Water of ‘creating more problems’ by not facilitating more water servives/provision.

“In Castlecomer, until one is found, we can’t build houses,” he said.

“They are now holding up the housing of people who are crying out for housing.”

Responding to this, Ms Mulholland said this was not an issue with the ongoing housing development in Castlecomer. Cllr Fitzpatrick agreed existing developments were fine, but said potential developers were getting letters saying they cannot build due to capacity issues.