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Matthews Welcomes Vacant Home Action Plan

Green Party TD Steven Matthews, Chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, has welcomed the Governments Vacant Home Action Plan and a €150m fund for local authorities for purchase and refurbishment of vacant and derelict building to use for new homes. ‘I introduced a piece of legislation last year aimed at tackling vacancy and dereliction and to expedite regeneration and refurbishment of vacant buildings and this new fund will greatly assist Wicklow County Council in this purpose,’ said Deputy Matthews.

‘A Vacant Homes Tax was introduced in the budget following recommendations from the Oireachtas Committee on Housing in our comprehensive report on Urban Regeneration. This is one of a series of funds, incentives and supports to assist building owners to repurpose their empty or derelict buildings for living. There is an urgent need for homes and a real climate challenge in encouraging compact and town centre living. The most climate friendly building is one that already exists, is served by existing services such as power, water, and transport, however in many cases an owner can’t afford to refurbish it or is unwilling and unchallenged to develop it. The Vacant Homes Tax and the Zoned Land Tax provide the nudge to act and the range of supports and funding under the Vacant Homes Action Plan can provide varying financial means to assist the owner. It is absolutely clear that if all the housing needed was to be new build, the carbon output would cause us to significantly overshoot our carbon budgets. It is therefore imperative for both housing and climate that we activate as much vacant and derelict housing and former commercial building for residential use.

The Department of Housing is launching this fund for Local Authorities and is providing guidance on Compulsory Purchase Orders aimed at vacancy and dereliction. Vacant Homes Officers are working with the councils and building owners in many areas, and we are seeing buildings coming back to life providing homes and improvement to our towns and villages. In recent times we have removed the requirement for planning permission for individual residential regeneration projects, provided grants for owners up to €75k and a range of schemes to repair and lease or sell properties back to councils for housing needs. A 6-week advertising campaign is under way to inform on all the grants and schemes available. It is a complex problem, there can be many reasons why a building is vacant but Vacant Homes Officers are available to assist and provide guidance. If anybody is aware of a suitable project or is looking for information, please feel free to get in touch with and I would be very happy to assist’ concluded Deputy Matthews



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