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Vacant Homes Action Plan

Adam Duggan



On the 30th January 2023, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, published the Vacant Homes Action Plan and launched a new €150 million fund for local authorities to tackle vacancy and dereliction in support of the plan.
The Vacant Homes Action Plan, which is part of the Government’s Housing for All plan to 2030 was published in 2021 and outlines progress in returning vacant properties to use  and promoting efficient use of existing housing stock. Under the National Planning Framework, a number of strategic policies and objectives were set out aimed specifically at tackling vacancy in rural towns and villages. The Action Plan outlines these policies and gives an update on its progress based on the data currently available which is taken from the Central Statistics Office, GeoDirectory data and Revenue data.

Pathway 4 of Housing for All sets out a suite of actions to achieve the objectives and the Action Plan provides details of these objectives while noting that significant progress is being made in meeting them. Interestingly, the Plan sets out a table of the summary of all actions, timelines for delivery and their status, including where these have been revised etc.

The Plan notes that since the publication of Housing for All, a number of structures have been established to support the addressing of vacancy and the reintroduction of vacant properties to the housing stock. These include the following:
  1. The Vacant Homes Unit – The role of this Unit is to oversee, drive and support a co-ordinated approach to addressing vacancy and efficient use of existing stock. The Unit is responsible for overseeing and reporting on the implementation the Vacant Homes Action Plan.
  1. The Housing Agency – This Agency supports local authorities and approved housing bodies by offering a broad base of shared and centralised services through practical research and technical expertise.
  1. Vacant Homes Officers - Each local authority has been assigned funding for the establishment and retention of Vacant Homes Office and Officer. The role is to promote various the various schemes in order to bring vacant properties into residential use along with collecting, monitoring and assessing vacancy data locally. In line with its target, the position was made full-time during the first quarter of 2021.
  1. Support for Compulsory Purchase Orders - To support local authorities in the use of CPOs, a number of key steps have been taken including the establishment of a Property Optimisation Unit in the Housing Agency. Legislation is also being reviewed with a view to streamlining and consolidating the CPO process. Originally, this was due to be complete by the end of 2021. However, the completion target has been revised to the end of the first quarter of 2023.
The Action Plan has outlined the actions taken to date and those that are planned up to 2026. It is overseen by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage who will report on its implementation with the focus on returning as many recoverable vacant properties back to viable use as possible. Since its announcement, a number of County Councils have welcomed the move as a means of bringing vacant and derelict properties back into use.

Written by: Adam Duggan

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