‘Turning empty office space into homes is a win-win for everyone’

by Sylvia Pownall

VACANT shops and offices in Fingal could be converted to homes to tackle the housing crisis, according to local politicians.


Proposals brought to Government for empty commercial premises to be used for housing without the need for planning permission have the backing of James Reilly.


The Fine Gael senator says with more than 8,500 people homeless, converting vacant retail units and ‘over the shop’ spaces makes perfect sense.


He told Dublin Gazette: “This will have the dual benefit of creating urgently needed housing supply in high-demand areas, while at the same time breathing new life into our towns and urban areas.


“The proposals have the potential to have a positive impact on the people of Fingal.”


The suggestion from Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, which he says will help bring more housing to the market quicker, is due for debate in the Dail in early 2018.


Cllr Tom O’Leary (FG) said there were several commercial units lying idle in Fingal which would be ideal for the scheme if it gets clearance.


He told Dublin Gazette: “Up to nine one-bed apartments could be provided over shops. There is definitely demand out there for that type of accommodation.


“One advantage for property owners would be reduced commercial rates bills due to a change of status.


“We would get much-needed homes in central locations, and the owner would get a sustainable guaranteed income. It’s a win-win for all.


“I am calling on all property owners in towns in Fingal to review their properties for conversion without planning permission for living accommodation.”


It recently emerged that 9% of Dublin dwellings – almost 21,000 units – are vacant. Many buildings converted to commercial use are empty, as demand for centrally-located office spaces dwindles.


In September, Fingal County Council chief executive Paul Reid warned that councils were struggling to find buildings to convert into family hubs for homeless people.


He said the local authority could not keep pace with the “increased number of presentations” from those who’d lost their homes.

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