FF Bill to speed up the refurbishment of vacant homes – Gallagher

A new Bill introduced by Fianna Fail will help speed up the refurbishment of thousands of vacant older buildings in older in cities and town centres according to Senator Robbie Gallagher.

The ‘Vacant Housing Refurbishment Bill 2017’ establishes a special planning and building control approval process in each planning authority. It will enable the expedited refurbishment of upper floors of older and commercial structures for housing.

“A new approach is needed to expand the supply of social, affordable and private housing as targets will not be met at the current rate of progress.

Refurbishment of vacant spaces in residential, as well as commercial properties and in older buildings, can provide the key to this.

“At the moment there is nothing in the Department strategy to deal with the very significant barriers that exist for Approved Housing Bodies, Local Authorities and private individuals to refurbish vacant properties in older buildings. Census 2016 revealed that almost 260,000 homes – 15% of total housing stock – are vacant across the country. This includes thousands of square feet of liveable space in ‘above the shop’ units which exist in large numbers. With the right policy instrument in place this could translate into thousands of additional residential units in a short space of time. Making these places habitable again has the potential to breathe life back into town centres across the country,” said Senator Gallagher.

“At the moment building control and planning processes make spaces in older or commercial buildings almost impossible to convert for residential use. Our Fianna Fail Bill seeks to establish a speedier and more efficient process for building control and planning administration in each local authority by,

(1) accelerating the supply of dwellings in existing buildings, where there are changes of use and / or limited building works to certain classes of development, and

(2) ensuring compliance with safety standards in existing multi-occupancy residential buildings, and

(3) regularising existing unauthorised developments.

“It is intended that a ‘One-Stop-Shop’ approval system will reduce delays in administration and ensure greater compliance in the conversion and refurbishment of existing structures in urban areas to residential use. The Bill requires direct inspection of the design plans before construction and on site by an independent ‘Authorised Person’, as defined by legislation and it also provides a mechanism to regularise existing unauthorised residential developments and bring them up to standard, particularly in the private rental sector.” “It is intended the ‘One-Stop-Shop’ approval system will reduce administrative delay, align existing administrative systems for planning and building control and ensure greater compliance in the conversion and refurbishment of existing structures in urban areas to residential use.

“This Bill has the intention of making it easier to bring population back into town centres. Our rural towns clearly need to see this happen,” he concluded.

A new Bill introduced by Fianna Fail will help speed up the refurbishment of thousands of vacant older buildings in older in cities and town centres according to Senator Robbie Gallagher.

The ‘Vacant Housing Refurbishment Bill 2017’ establishes a special planning and building control approval process in each planning authority. It will enable the expedited refurbishment of upper floors of older and commercial structures for housing.

“A new approach is needed to expand the supply of social, affordable and private housing as targets will not be met at the current rate of progress.

Refurbishment of vacant spaces in residential, as well as commercial properties and in older buildings, can provide the key to this.

“At the moment there is nothing in the Department strategy to deal with the very significant barriers that exist for Approved Housing Bodies, Local Authorities and private individuals to refurbish vacant properties in older buildings. Census 2016 revealed that almost 260,000 homes – 15% of total housing stock – are vacant across the country. This includes thousands of square feet of liveable space in ‘above the shop’ units which exist in large numbers. With the right policy instrument in place this could translate into thousands of additional residential units in a short space of time. Making these places habitable again has the potential to breathe life back into town centres across the country,” said Senator Gallagher.

“At the moment building control and planning processes make spaces in older or commercial buildings almost impossible to convert for residential use. Our Fianna Fail Bill seeks to establish a speedier and more efficient process for building control and planning administration in each local authority by,

(1) accelerating the supply of dwellings in existing buildings, where there are changes of use and / or limited building works to certain classes of development, and

(2) ensuring compliance with safety standards in existing multi-occupancy residential buildings, and

(3) regularising existing unauthorised developments.

“It is intended that a ‘One-Stop-Shop’ approval system will reduce delays in administration and ensure greater compliance in the conversion and refurbishment of existing structures in urban areas to residential use. The Bill requires direct inspection of the design plans before construction and on site by an independent ‘Authorised Person’, as defined by legislation and it also provides a mechanism to regularise existing unauthorised residential developments and bring them up to standard, particularly in the private rental sector.” “It is intended the ‘One-Stop-Shop’ approval system will reduce administrative delay, align existing administrative systems for planning and building control and ensure greater compliance in the conversion and refurbishment of existing structures in urban areas to residential use.

“This Bill has the intention of making it easier to bring population back into town centres. Our rural towns clearly need to see this happen,” he concluded.

 

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