The Land Development Agency has said it will accelerate housing building projects to deliver up to 26,000 new social and affordable homes.

The agency, which was set up to develop State owned land, is to be given an extra €1 billion as part of Housing For All to take over private developments which have been delayed.

Yesterday, the Government launched what Taoiseach Micheál Martin described as an "unprecedented" housing strategy underpinned by €4 billion in guaranteed State funding annually for the next five years.

Housing For All promises to deliver 300,000 new homes by 2030.

The LDA already has plans for 6,000 homes on 12 sites and has agreements for the transfer of other State lands capable of providing up to 15,000 more.

These include lands belonging to organisations like CIE, ESB, the Health Service Executive and Office of Public Work in areas such as Inchicore in Dublin, Cork's Docklands and Limerick's Colbert Station.

Under Housing for All the LDA will also be taking over or partnering projects to deliver another 5,000 cost rental and affordable purchase homes by 2026 in an initiative called Project Tosaigh.

It will involve sites that have full planning permission but are not being developed because of financing problem or other issues.

However, the LDA's main role will be as the State's primary developer of cost rental housing units, which the organisation will also manage.

CEO John Coleman said: "The LDA is addressing a crucial gap in the market to give a fair deal to the many thousands of people who don't qualify for social housing, but are struggling to pay private sector rents."

It hopes to provide rental properties at 25% below current market prices allowing tenants to pay only about a third of their net disposable income on rent.

The additional €1 billion from Project Tosaigh brings the total funding for the LDA to €3.5 billion.

By 2026 it hopes to be completing 2,000 homes a year, making it bigger than companies like Cairn Homes or Glenveagh Homes.

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However, opposition parties such as Sinn Féin and People Before Profit have criticised the creation of the LDA claiming it will involve the privatisation of public land.

Councillors from other parties, including Fianna Fáil, have expressed concern at the LDA's powers to take over local authority projects.

The LDA will be taking over the long awaited regeneration of St Teresa's Garden in Dublin's south city from the city council.

However its first project will be in Shanganagh in South Dublin, where a tendering process has begun for the construction of 597 social and affordable homes by 2023.

A planning application is also due in the coming months for the redevelopment of the Dundrum Central Mental Hospital site to deliver around 1,200 new homes.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne, Mr Coleman said the agency is close to starting a number of key projects.

"We are very close to getting on site on a couple of schemes. We're actually out to tender on one major scheme at the moment. There are contractors running the rule over our 600 homes scheme out in Shanganagh, which is entirely social and affordable."

Mr Coleman said: "There's two things that the LDA does, and the best way to think about it is in the nearer term, and in the longer term, so in the nearer term we have access to State land.

"Then in the longer term, the ethos behind the LDA when it was set up was one of an active land manager, a land assembly agency.

"And when you look at the housing problems that we have today, it's because we haven't managed our land coherently and in a strategic way, so that decades later ... you have serviced planned and ready to go land that's able to be developed, and that's a problem that we're living with now - we don't have that.

"And we have a number of strategic areas that we're also working on over the longer term," he said.

Govt housing plans show shortfall in affordable homes

Social Democrats TD Cian O'Callaghan has said a commitment to deliver a significant number of affordable purchase homes is missing from the Government's housing plan.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr O'Callaghan said there was a clear promise from Fianna Fáil in the last election that they were going to build 10,000 affordable homes each year that they were in government, but that it is "missing" from this plan.

"They are talking about 1,000 affordable purchase homes potentially next year, moving to 2,000 affordable after that. So over the lifetime of government they are not going to deliver the amount of affordable purchase homes they were promising in black and white, in their manifesto that they would deliver each year."

He said for people paying high rents and who were hoping to get an affordable purchase home, this will be a disappointment.

Mr O'Callaghan said that ultimately the plan sets out less social housing to be delivered next year than the projections for this year.

"It is down to 9,000 while we were promised almost 13,000 social housing for this year," and said no reason has been given for the decrease.

The CEO of the Irish Plant Contractors Association has said while the announcement of 300,000 new homes by 2030 is welcomed, the big issue is finding the workers to build them.

Brian Coogan said the Government should adopt a "combined approach" where it looks at both overseas recruitment fairs, particularly in South Africa and Brazil, and also embark on an incentive to encourage Irish trades people to come back to Ireland to work.

He said there has been a large period of "under-investment" in construction and the industry is calling for sustained schemes to train more people.

Mr Coogan also highlighted the issue of rising costs in construction, which, he said, is down to demand and supply and said he believes that the proposal for significantly more homes to be built will mean these costs are going to increase further.

Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien said that those who feel they have no stake in the housing market are the Government's priority within the Housing for All Plan, which has very clear on actions on home ownership.

In particular, he said, the Home First Shared Equity plan and the direct-build affordable housing will provide homes at affordable prices.

Speaking on the same programme, he said: "we haven't had affordable housing in the State for over a decade, and [there are ] three different options, including cost rental to [provide ] long-term State backed rents all across the country".

The minister also said that to deliver the commitment of 9,000 new build social housing units next year, every single local authority will have a housing delivery team.

"We are not talking about buying homes from the normal market, we are talking about developing from the ground up."