Vacant buildings may soon be used to help tackle the housing crisis.

A manual is being launched today to help owners, local authorities and the construction industry re-use existing property in our towns and cities.

The Minister for Housing and Urban Development is in Athlone for the launch of the document which provides an outline on the re-working of older, vacant buildings for residential use.

The ‘Bringing Back Homes’ initiative is part of the Government’s rebuilding Ireland action plan.

Aimed at property owners, the public, local authorities and the construction industry, the manual aims to help redevelop vacant properties, to help increase the supply of quality housing for individuals and families – while rejuvenating town centres and city streets.

Minister Damien English says it can help tackle the challenges we face over housing, homelessness, and urban regeneration.

He says it can improve the supply of quality housing, while also improving our towns and cities.

“To enable someone who owns a property to bring it back into use is a key way of doing that,” he said.

The Minster says planning exemptions introduced last year, will also help, allowing a change of use for certain vacant commercial buildings to domestic use – without the need for planning.

“There are a number of different funding schemes we have as well that are available to people who own these properties, but again, these are private properties and we would like to see them coming back into use,” he said.

“We have changed our planning laws around this, we’ve exempted developments and we’ve certainly made it easier, so this document is part of the toolkit to help make that happen.”

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