In November 2000 the then Minister for Environment, and Local Government, Noel Dempsey brought in the Planning and Development Act 2000. It Part V of the act a provision was brought in which said that all residential housing developments in zoned land would have to provide 20 per cent social and affordable housing.
This measure was meant to tackle some of the social housing problems in Ireland.
However as a result of amendments brought in by the government, under pressure from the building industry, 14,000 potential social and affordable housing units were lost. This is according to a report by Focus Ireland report ‘Building for Social Inclusion'. They estimate that one third of the social and affordable housing planned under Part V for 2005 and 2006 has been delivered. In 2004 local authorities planned for 1,945 social and affordable units, but just 591 units were built, less than a third. In 2005 local authorities estimated that 3,865 units would be built, but only 1,371 units were constructed.
One of the amendments gave county councils the power to allow builders pay fines in place of building the social and affordable units.
Since 2003 the total of payments in lieu of providing the housing has been €31.8m. John O'Connor from the Affordable Home Partnership says that payments in lieu "are being used too much".
Threshold, a national housing organisation says that commitments in the National Development plan 2007-2013 of 60,000 additional social housing units are not enough. They say that at least 10,000 units are needed a year. The National Economic and Social Council recommends that a minimum of 73,000 social housing units be built by 2012.