01 Jul 2022

Planning removed to convert empty Laois pubs into family homes

Planning removed to convert empty Laois pubs into family homes

A pub for sale in The Swan, Laois

Empty Laois pubs, like this one for sale in The Swan, could soon be converted to family homes, with new legislation announced by Government this Friday February 25.

No planning permission will now be needed to turn vacant pubs into family homes under the new regulations. 

Vacant shops and the vacant floors above them are also included.

It is one of several measures announced by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, TD, aimed at increasing housing, and tackle urban regeneration.

He has signed planning regulations to exempt the conversion of former pubs into residential units from requiring planning permission.

The exemptions aim to increase the re-use of vacant commercial buildings in Laois and elsewhere to increase much-needed housing supply and renew urban areas.

Since 2018, 30 residential units have been provided in county Laois through 14 notifications of exempted developments. The regulations signed by Minister O’Brien extend the exemption to the end of 2025.  

For the conversion of former pubs into a home/homes in Laois the pub’s license must have lapsed.
A limit of 9 residential units can be produced under an exempted development.

 Minister O’Brien said: 

“Turning vacant properties into occupied homes is a major element of Housing for All. Unfortunately towns and villages in Laois have seen pubs close their doors for the last time in recent years, not least over the last two years. This new planning regulation will ease the planning burden for those who want to convert small and medium-sized pubs that are no longer viable and have ceased to operate, into residential housing for Laois. The regulations will also continue to make it easier to get other forms of vacant commercial premises in Laois, including vacant spaces over ground floor premises, back into use for residential purposes such as ‘over the shop’ living.”    

The Minister of State for Planning and Local Government, Peter Burke, TD, who also worked on these planning regulations, added:

“Since 2018, 25 homes have been provided from exempting the conversion of certain vacant commercial premises in Laois. I believe there is great potential for even more vacant properties to be converted into residential units through these regulations. Increased awareness of these exemptions, including through the work of Laois County Council, will help get more vacant properties back into use. This measure supports the Government’s other measures to tackle vacancy, including increased funding for full-time Vacant Homes Officers in Laois County Council and other local authorities, and the launch of a Town Centre First policy, which will revitalise town centres and their buildings.” 

The Government has also increased the money that funds the full time Vacant Homes Officer in Laois and other county councils, from €50,000 a year to €60,000. The officer's role is to find vacant properties in the county and consider them for potential social housing, or for buying and selling on to the open market, to tackle both the housing shortage and dereliction.

The office will also have an extra role in driving two new Housing for All schemes.

The Croí Connaithe (Towns) Initiative, which will attract people to build their own homes, and support the refurbishment of vacant properties.
The Compulsory Purchase Order programme, to be implemented by local authorities, to purchase vacant properties for resale on the open market to ensure their use for residential purposes.

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