Dismay expressed over
€2 million interest bill for lands owned by council

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The fact that Louth County Council was paying €2 million interest on land lying idle was once again raised at last week’s monthly meeting.

The fact that Louth County Council was paying €2 million interest on land lying idle was once again raised at last week’s monthly meeting.

Speaking at the meeting Joan Martin CEO said that there was continuous pressure being applied by County Chief Executives to resolve the situation.

Dublin had received approval to build some houses on some lands.

Councillors agreed to a suggestion by Councillor Frank Godfrey to send a delegation comprised of officials and the county’s TDs to seek funding to build houses.

The council is also to invite Minister Alan Kelly to address the council on the housing crisis and in respect of €2m interest payment on lands.

Councillor Mark Dearey urged the council seek more funding from the Department for site resolution, and to write to the Minister and request the re-introduction of the Land Aggregate scheme to get the council off a terrible treadmill.

A report before the council stated the council received site resolution funding for the Saltown Estate in Dundalk and works had commenced and were to be completed by November 28.

Director of Services Joe McGuinness said there was no indication that funds would be made available for 2015 in respect of the scheme.

He said that the council worked closely with voluntary housing organisations in regard to the housing situation, and they were the only ones with the power to borrow money.

Other councillors were opposed to the handing over the building of housing to voluntary organisations, and said they would like to see such bodies regulated.

The CEO said that a report was provided months ago to the council on loans and the land situation, which could be re-circulated but nothing had changed.

She explained that in the past when the council bought land for social housing they didn’t pay money for seven years. The capital grant they received covered the purchase and cost of the building of houses.

In the case where the council bought land in this instance the economic crash and fundamental change in Government policy intervened.

The Land Aggregate scheme was deemed the answer to the problem, but only land in Mount Avenue came under it before it was withdrawn.

Mr McGuinness said that the council had in excess of 30 acres of land for housing.

He said the council had most of it let out on con acre for agricultural purposes, but couldn’t say of the top of his head what income the council was receiving.