Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Finance if he will increase the maximum floor area of eligible buildings under the Living City Initiative, in view of concerns that the cap of 210 square metres per project will exclude many pre-1915 properties within the designated areas.
REPLY (Minister Michael Noonan):
The Living City Initiative is a targeted tax incentive aimed at the regeneration of houses in the parts of the inner cities which are most in need of regeneration. The residential element of the relief was initially targeted at Georgian houses but the scope was later extended to buildings which were constructed before 1915 for use as a dwelling, following an independent ex ante cost benefit analysis by Indecon Economic Consultants.
Previous owner occupier and section 23 type schemes had a maximum floor area limit of 125 square metres. The Living City Initiative limit of 210 square metres is larger than previous schemes to take account of the fact that some pre-1915 houses tended to be constructed on a grander scale.
In addition, it is important to note that "house" includes any building or part of a building used or suitable for use as a dwelling. Many of the larger houses in the Special Regeneration Areas have been split into units, for example, there may be a commercial premises on the ground floor with a residential premises on the upper floors, or a house may be divided into a number of residential apartments. In that case, expenditure incurred on the unit that the owner occupies as his sole or main residence should qualify for relief where the necessary conditions are met.
As the scheme rolls out over the coming months, all aspects of it will be kept under review. It is important to note that I do not see this as a wide-spread Initiative, as it is targeted at regenerating those areas which are most in need of attention.