The former Central Garage premises in Mountmellick.
A new fund has been announced to support vacant and underused buildings in town and villages and bring them back into residential use.
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien and the Taoiseach Micheál Martin today launched a new €50m Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund.
In the announcement the Department noted that, “Many areas of towns and villages face the blight of vacant properties, which, if brought back into use, could add real vibrancy to towns of all sizes across county Laois.
“This is a clear ambition of the Government’s Our Rural Future policy and of the recently published Town Centre First policy, which aims to tackle vacancy, combat dereliction and breathe new life into our town centres.
“It also delivers on the ambition set out in Pathway 4 of Housing for All which aims to Address Vacancy and Make Efficient Use of Existing Housing Stock.
“The Scheme is set to benefit those who wish to turn a formerly vacant house or building into their principal private residence and become part of the community in the area, furthering the aim to create town centres that function as viable, vibrant and attractive locations for people to live, work and visit, while also functioning as the service, social, cultural and recreational hub for the local community.
“The Fund will be delivered through local authorities who will provide a grant to support the refurbishment of vacant properties, with priority given to applications in areas where the level of vacancy or dereliction is high.
“A grant of up to €30,000 will be available for the refurbishment of vacant properties for occupation as a principal private residence, including the conversion of a property which has not been used as a home before now.
“Where a property is derelict, a maximum top-up grant amount of up to €20,000 will be available, bringing the total grant available for a derelict property up to a maximum of €50,000.
“This can also be combined with the SEAI Better Energy Home Scheme that covers works of up to €26,750.”
Announcing the initiative, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin said, “We know there is a great appetite across the towns and villages of Laois to bring vacant properties back into use for home ownership and this scheme will provide the ability to turn many of those opportunities into reality.
“This initiative is among the suite of measures in Housing for All which are designed to ensure that everyone has access to good quality housing as well as seeking to strengthen and diversify rural towns and villages to be a focus for local housing and employment growth.”
Minister Darragh O’Brien TD added, "The Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund is another key delivery milestone in the Government’s Housing for All plan and supporting home ownership.
“Recently we launched our new Home First Scheme, announced affordable and cost rental accommodation to be developed through the Land Development Agency at Shanganagh and promoted the development of apartments for owner occupiers through the Croí Conaithe Cities fund.
“Today, this scheme becomes our latest addition to boosting home ownership by supporting people to refurbish vacant properties to become their homes, enabling them to live in towns and villages and addressing vacancy through sustainable reuse.
“At the same we are adding to the vibrancy of towns and villages across the country and supporting local communities.
“I also intend extending the scheme further into city areas with high vacancy or dereliction in the coming months.”
Also attending the launch, Minister of State for Planning and Electoral Reform, Peter Burke T.D., stated that, “Today’s new fund is a part of a suite of measures undertaken by the government to tackle vacancy. It will be complemented by the upcoming Vacant Property Tax to help bring more properties back into use across the country”.
Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan T.D., commented that, “This new scheme complements changes to planning laws that facilitate the conversion of properties into residential use.
“It can also be combined with the SEAI grant to make it more viable for old buildings to be brought back into use. It’s a major step forward for our towns and villages and will enable the delivery of homes with a low carbon footprint.”
The application form, eligibility criteria and associated FAQs will provide additional information to people who would like to apply for the grant.
Further information will be available from the Vacant Homes Officer in each local authority.
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