The Land Development Agency Explained
The Land Development Agency (Establishment) Order 2018 (the “Order”) set up the Land Development Agency (“LDA”) which was launched on 13 September 2018.
Functions of the LDA
Section 5 of the Order sets out the following services to be provided by the LDA:
- Development and regeneration of land and property including structures, for the purposes of the delivery of housing and the achievement of wider physical, social and economic development and regeneration.
- Supporting the consolidation and replenishment of the publicly owned development land bank and expediting the most efficient use of such land.
- Establishing appropriate mechanisms and collaborative structures between public and private bodies to develop key strategic sites in public ownership.
- Creation of a database of public lands relevant to the functions of the agency.
- Master planning and development appraisal services.
- Securing development consents for relevant lands and development projects.
- Procurement of such technical administrative or implementation activities as may be necessary.
- Procurement of development construction and evaluation services to deliver housing and wider urban regeneration and development projects.”
Membership of the Land Development Agency and the constitution of its board
The Order provides that the board of the LDA shall be appointed by the Minister and the number of members so appointed shall not be less than 6 nor more than 10. The membership of the Land Development Agency board shall comprise the following:
- A chairperson nominated by the Minister.
- One serving officer from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government as nominated by the Minister; and
- One serving officer from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform as nominated by the Minister of that Department.
- One representative of the Local Government Sector as nominated by the Minister.
- One serving officer from the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency as nominated by the Chairperson of that said agency.
- The Chief Executive Officer.
- Such other persons, not being more than four, as the Minister may consider appropriate.
How is the Land Development Agency funded?
The Order provides that the Minister may pay grants of such amounts as may be sanctioned by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform out of monies to be provided by the Oireachtas towards the operating costs and expenses of the Land Development Agency.
What are the specific powers of the Land Development Agency?
The LDA may do all acts as may be necessary for the effective discharge of its functions and for this purpose it may:
- “Acquire, purchase or take on lease any land or buildings, may sell, exchange or let or otherwise dispose of any land or buildings vested in the LDA.
- Take ownership of land, buildings and other property upon such trust and conditions …save that the LDA may not take ownership if, in [its] opinion, the conditions attached … are not consistent with the LDA’s functions.”
At the launch of the Land Development Agency, the Government stated that the LDA was to build 150,000 new homes over the next 20 years. The immediate focus was on managing the State’s own lands to develop new homes and regenerate under-utilised sites. In the longer term, the LDA will assemble strategic land banks from a mix of public and private lands, making these available for housing in a controlled manner. It is intended that this will bring essential long-term stability to the Irish housing market. It is also envisaged that there are State lands which are capable of delivering 10,000 homes, of which 3,000 of those homes are on lands that have already been secured. The LDA is already in the process of expanding its portfolio.
The LDA is modelled on practices already demonstrated in Germany and the Netherlands. By assembling land packages ahead of the planning and infrastructure stages, the LDA can lower development land costs and tackle upward pressure on house prices. The LDA will be a commercial State-sponsored body, acting within a stated government policy framework i.e. that all public land disposals must deliver at least 40% of any housing potential on such lands in the form of social housing (10%) and affordable housing (30%). The LDA has already been capitalised with the sum of €1.25bn. It will have access to capital from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and other private finance which it will raise itself commercially. The hope is that this combination of land and capital for investment will enable the LDA to prepare development plans for sites and subsequently to fund the development of the sites and construction of housing on a commercial basis. The LDA should thus be able to take a long-term strategic approach to land acquisition and management.