Housing and Building
The Housing section of Sligo County Council provides a number of very important services, covering every aspect of social housing:
- Assisting people who are in need of housing and who cannot afford it from their own resources
- Provision and management of traveller accommodation
- Liaison with approved Voluntary Housing Organisations and other agencies in the provision of accommodation
- Encouragement of home ownership through the Shared Ownership Scheme, Tenant Purchase Scheme, Affordable Housing Scheme and various loan option.
- Fairgreen View, Collooney
- Marren Park, Ballymote
The Social and Affordable Housing Action Plan 2004-2008, as agreed with the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government in December 2004, sets targets for the Council to deliver a specified number of units per year across a range of housing options such as Social, Affordable, Voluntary and Part V Housing. This figure stands at 493 over the life time of the plan which averages at an estimate of 98 units per annum. This figure sets a challenge to the Council
in terms of securing and procuring adequate land and negotiating with both developers and the Voluntary housing agencies.
The Housing capital allocation from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government for 2005 was €9,650,000, which was made up as follows:
- Local Authority Housing Programme €9,500,000
- Residential Caravans & Group Housing for Travellers €150,000
The following sets out in summary, progress on the larger housing schemes:
||Completed in 2005
||Completed in 2006|
The Council has always had a policy of purchasing houses on the open market where the houses represent value for money and where a demand exists. In the current economic climate, it is not possible to source many houses on the open market which fall within the Department’s approved unit cost budget. However, 7 houses were purchased on the open market in 2005. In addition, work commenced on 4 rural houses during the year.
Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, has provided a welcome opportunity to Housing Authorities to secure land, housing units or money to assist with delivering the Housing Capital Programme.
The Housing Strategy states that 20% of eligible sites, which are the subject of new residential development, are to be set aside for the development of social and affordable housing. There are a variety of options for compliance with this requirement but the preferred option of the Housing Authority is to take units or land which will become available for a mix of social and affordable housing.
Negotiations on Part V take place as early as possible in the Planning Process which provides an opportunity for both the Local Authority and the developer to secure an outcome to their satisfaction. Negotiations have been ongoing with developers in respect of all applications which are within the areas zoned for residential development since the adoption of the Housing Strategy. This involves a legal agreement between the Authority and the developer setting out all details in respect of the Part V offer. The environs of Sligo, Strandhill and Enniscrone have been subject to zoning for some time. In addition, since May 2005, residential development at Ballisodare, Collooney and Grange are now subject to the Part V requirements.
The Council’s target in the Action Plan is to deliver 36 Part V units by the end of 2008. This figure, while dependent on a number of factors outside the control of the Housing Authority, should be achieved. The funding for the social units is obtained from the Department of Environment, Heritage & Local Government while the funding for the affordable units is obtained from the Housing Finance Agency. The Bank of Ireland and some of the Building Societies have now also entered the market to provide funding to purchasers of Part V affordable housing.
Public Private Partnership
The Sligo Local Authorities have recently put in place a Procurement and Project Management Team. The aim of the team is to assist in the procurement of services and projects on behalf of Sligo Local Authorities and to oversee the project management of specific capital works in both Sligo County and City.
The team is currently involved in Housing PPP projects in Carney and Bellanode. The Carney Housing Scheme is being piloted in the County as a PPP (Public Private Partnership) project and will see the development of 5.3 acres of County Council owned land into a mix of social, affordable and private housing together with some small scale commercial development and community facilities. Bidders have been shortlisted and public consultation has taken place. It is anticipated that construction of the development will commence in June 2006.
Approximately 66% of the maintenance budget of €480,000 was used for planned maintenance and the remaining 34% was used for emergency repairs. Planned
maintenance involved replacing defective windows and doors and also replacing defective ranges.
The Council allocated €10,000 towards Environmental Improvements. The Environmental Maintenance Co-Op was successful in their tender for environmental improvements in various local authority estates which involved grass cutting and maintenance work which was carried out during the summer months.
A grant of €185,000 was received from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government towards the installation of central heating in County Council dwellings. The Council supplemented this grant with approximately €55,000 from the maintenance budget. Work was carried out on the installation of central heating and insulation of approximately 36 dwellings.
Rents payable on local authority dwellings are assessed under a Differential Rents Scheme based on the income of the household. The Rent Scheme was reviewed in 2005 and rents were brought into line with increases in disposable income and to meet the ever-increasing demand for maintenance and estate management.
Those who wish to purchase or build a house but cannot get a loan from a building society, bank, etc. may be eligible for a loan from a local authority. The maximum house purchase/construction loan is 95% of the cost to a maximum of €165,000. Sligo County Council paid out €309,296.44 in house purchase, construction and reconstruction loans in 2005.
Loan Appprovals 2005
|Type of Loan
Loan Payments 2005
|Type of Loan
Shared Ownership Scheme
This scheme offers home ownership in a number of steps to those who cannot afford full ownership in one step in the traditional way. Initially, ownership of the house is shared between the shared owner and the Local Authority, however, the shared owner has the option at a later date to purchase the Council’s share outright when they are in a better position to afford it financially.
In 2005, Sligo County Council issued 17 (no.) Provisional Approvals to applicants and 7 (no.) Final Approvals were granted under this scheme.
Persons who have been tenants of a local authority house for a period of at least one year may apply to purchase their rented house outright or by means of Shared Ownership under the Tenant Purchase Scheme. The purchase price will be the market value of the house in its existing state of repair and condition, less various discounts.
Ten houses were sold under the Tenant Purchase Scheme - 2 were approved for Council loans and the remaining 8 received loans from other financial institutions.
Improvement Works In Lieu of Re-Housing
This Scheme allows Sligo County Council to improve or extend privately owned houses occupied or intended to be occupied by an approved applicant for housing as an alternative to the provision of local authority housing.
During 2005, 11 houses were upgraded at an average cost per house of €50,432 and 10 applications were approved under the Scheme.
During 2005, construction commenced on 10 fourbedroomed affordable houses in Grange. This is the first scheme of its kind in North Sligo and it is expected that interest will be very high when the scheme is completed early in 2006.
The Estate Management Officer continued to provide support to Council tenants during 2005 via pre-tenancy training, engaging with Resident Associations in relation to Estate Action Plans and acting as a liaison with Council officials regarding housing issues, e.g. maintenance, transfers, etc.
Sligo County Council received approval during 2005 for funding of €55,000 under the Clár Estate Enhancement Scheme, (€26,125 from Clár, €26,125 Local Authority Internal Capital Receipts and €2,750 local contribution). The Scheme operates from September 2005 to the end of August 2007 and the approved works include the provision of seating, paving, landscaping and lighting of six specified Council estates.
In September 2005, Sligo Local Authorities adopted a joint policy on combating Anti-Social Behaviour. This document sets out clear policies and procedures for dealing with instances of anti-social behaviour in Local Authority housing. It was prepared in consultation with Estate Management Officers, Gardai, Resident Associations and other interested parties. Extensive public consultation was undertaken, and feedback was positive.
To further support Estate Management activities, Sligo Local Authorities jointly sought and secured funding from the Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government under the 2005 Housing Management Initiative Grants Scheme for the following projects:
- The employment of a Housing Investigation Officer and Community Development Officer, whose main roles will be to implement the recently adopted antisocial behaviour policy, facilitate the establishment of and provide support to Resident Associations
- The development of a comprehensive Integrated Estate Management Strategy for County Sligo – a project co-ordinator will be employed for a 12 month period for this project
Essential Repairs Grants
The principal benefit of the Essential Repairs Grants Scheme is that it enables structural repairs to be carried out to prolong the life of a house for an elderly resident. The maximum grant available under the Scheme is €9,523, with 2/3 of the cost being recouped from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.
34 approvals were issued during the year and 23 grants were paid out under this Scheme, totalling €92,896.25.
Disabled Persons Grants
The Disabled Persons Grants Scheme allows Sligo County Council to make a grant available for the provision of house adaptations to meet the needs of a household member who is disabled. Due to the ever-increasing number of applications, the grants are awarded on a priority basis, with a focus on those cases where the applicant’s disability seriously impacts on their quality of life.
The maximum amount payable under the Scheme is €20,315, with 2/3 of the cost being recouped from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local
Government. 113 approvals were issued during the year and 70 grants were paid out under this Scheme totalling €215,929.70.
During 2005, the Traveller Accommodation Programme 2005 – 2008 was adopted, and proposals contained in the programme, including a transient Halting site at Cloonamahon, are progressing. Construction work on the transient site commenced in November, and is due to be completed mid 2006.
A Traveller Liaison Officer was appointed with Sligo County Council in December 2005.