Dáil Éireann - Volume 508 - 30 September, 1999

Written Answers. - National Task Force on Suicide.

130. Mr. Neville asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government the progress, if any, made on the introduction of the recommendations of the national task force on suicide. [18448/99]

Minister for the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Dempsey): Three of the recommendations made by the task force are of particular relevance to my Department. The first of these is that “planning authorities, in so far as is possible, shall endeavour to avoid possible overcrowding of accommodation in the planning, designing and location of residential accommodation”. The recently published social housing design guidelines set out comprehensive advice for the design of high quality social housing, including guidance on accommodation for different household categories. The recently published planning guidelines on residential density promote increased densities in appropriate locations in the interest of sustainable development. The guidelines emphasise that the overriding concern should be the quality of the proposed residential environment and higher densities should only be permitted where all the criteria which contribute to this environment are satisfied. Planning authorities are advised to consider the preparation of design guides illustrating good examples of residential layouts at increased densities, appropriate to local circumstances.

The second of the task force's recommendations which falls within my area of responsibility is that “planning authorities, in so far as is possible shall endeavour to allocate housing with an objective of having a varied age structure in the local community”. The guidelines on residential density specify that all schemes incorporating higher densities, on sites in excess of 1.0 ha, approximately 2.47 acres, should be required to have a variety of dwelling types. A mix of dwelling types in schemes will facilitate a mix of occupants, each of whom has different housing needs. The recently published Planning and Development Bill, 1999, is also relevant. It requires planning authorities to prepare housing strategies to take account of housing needs of the population and future population of the area and to have regard to the need for a mix of house types to reasonably match the requirements of different household categories and to the need to counteract social segregation. All of these measures should lead to more integrated communities. It is also a specific objective of social housing policy to mitigate the extent and effects of social segregation in housing. The expansion of social housing provision that is under way and will be con[784] tinued under the national development plan will continue this policy and concentrate on the provision of smaller, well designed schemes, often on infill sites, that are conducive to the development of integrated communities.

The third of the recommendations provides that “life saving apparatus be available in appropriate places where there is easy access to water”. I have asked the National Safety Council, which has responsibility for, inter alia, the promotion of water safety generally, to write to all local authorities and harbour boards drawing attention to this recommendation.