Fianna Fáil TD for Tipperary Jackie Cahill has criticised the Housing Minister for failing to deliver measures to make it easier for people to convert vacant properties into accommodation. The government announced a plan to allow property owners to change the use of space above businesses in town centres so that they can convert them into liveable accommodation.
Deputy Cahill explained, “There are dozens of businesses in town centres across Co. Tipperary which have vacant space in the buildings above their shop or office, which could be used for accommodation. However, the current system to convert these buildings from commercial to residential use, is extremely cumbersome and is resulting in owners getting bogged down for months at a time with planning applications.
“It is widely acknowledged that there is a housing emergency and all efforts should be made to make it as easy as possible for people to supply suitable accommodation for people to buy or rent. There are units which have been lying idle for years which would be ideal, if the will was there to make the conversion as straight forward as possible.
“Fianna Fáil published a Bill – ‘Vacant Housing Refurbishment Bill 2017’- a year and a half ago, which would establish a special planning and building control approval process in each planning authority. This legislation sought to speed up the refurbishment of upper floors of older and commercial structures for housing.
“The government has failed to react and explore all of the options open to it to help ease the housing crisis. Our Bill adopts a common sense approach but it is still languishing in the Oireachtas. If the government was serious about looking solutions, it could have moved the Bill on.
“This closed mind policy is simply not working and I am urging Minister Murphy and his colleagues to do more to bring in specific planning guidelines and initiatives to progress this issue”, concluded Deputy Cahill.