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‘Vacant public buildings are unacceptable in a housing crisis’ – Matthews

Deputy Steven Matthews, Green Party TD for Wicklow, has said that returning vacant and derelict properties to use is crucial to increasing access to affordable housing and enabling the development of community spaces. Following a recent statement by the Office of Public Works (OPW) that there are over 100 unoccupied and vacant properties owned by the OPW Deputy Matthews said:


“Tackling vacancy and dereliction is one of my priorities as TD for Wicklow. I recently launched the Dereliction and Building Regeneration Bill 2022, which if enacted, will introduce strong measures to activate vacant homes, derelict buildings and make it easier to convert over-the-shop spaces into residential units. It is estimated that these measures could deliver as many as 11,000 homes a year.


“There are currently 70 vacant properties and 38 unused sites owned by the OPW, including Hollywood Garda Station and Ashford Garda Station. I am delighted that Wicklow County Council is actively pursuing the Ashford site for re-use but publicly owned vacant and derelict buildings are completely unacceptable in a housing crisis. These sites are often in places of housing demand, are serviced and viable to bring back to living and use and the state needs to lead by example.


“Re-purposing vacant and derelict buildings will increase access to affordable housing, create more spaces for remote working and provide hubs for the delivery of community services. This is one of the cheapest and most environmentally sustainable ways of addressing the housing crisis and bringing life and vibrancy back to our towns and villages in Wicklow and across the country.


“Addressing the blight of vacancy and dereliction is a core policy of the Green Party. We fought hard to ensure that this was included in the Programme for Government and prioritised in the recently launched Croí Cónnaithe scheme, which provides grants up to €50,000 to turn vacant or derelict properties into homes. If anyone has questions about the Dereliction and Building Regeneration Bill or the supports available to re-purpose vacant properties, I would encourage them to get in touch with me directly and I will offer any support I can”, Deputy Matthews concluded.





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