A meeting discussing how to target Munster’s 29,000 vacant homes and almost 7,000 derelict units is taking place online on Monday.
Senator Tim Lombard said the aim of the Fine Gael-arranged meeting is tap into a range of local experience and look at what actions can be taken to bring vacant homes and derelict units into use across Cork and Munster.
“As of Q4 2021, the vacancy rate of properties across Cork was 4.1% with a total of 9,409 vacant homes," he pointed out.
The average vacancy rate across the country is 4.4%, according to the most recent Residential Buildings Report. Mr Lombard believes some of the national schemes aimed at addressing vacancy and dereliction can be better designed.
“The evidence is that some local authorities are much better at making use of the available schemes, while some of those tools could be better designed," he said. "If all local authorities replicated the best performing county, nearly 5,000 vacant units could be quickly back in use in Munster.
“It is disappointing that no Cork town has had the opportunity to have a Town Health Check, which is designed to help towns create a pathway to renewal."
However, he said 67 projects across the county have benefited from over €5.1m in funding under the Town & Village Renewal Scheme since 2016.
“The selection of projects in Banteer, Kinsale, Annes Grove, Ballydesmond, Coláiste Iosagáin Campus, Rathcormac, Macroom, Kanturk, Mitchelstown, The Beara Breifne Way, Youghal and Fermoy to receive combined funding of €14m under the Rural Regeneration Fund is a welcome step and must be the first of many such initiatives," Mr Lombard said. "Skibbereen, with €100,000 in funding, has been selected to develop the first town centre masterplan in Cork.
“Issues which the consultation should look at from a Cork perspective include greater flexibility in the use of the Living City tax relief; steps to speed up the turnaround time of surrendered local authority homes, which at 78 weeks is much longer than in other councils; extension of the Repair and Refurbishment to “cost rental” units or “affordable purchase” as well as social homes; and the possibility of a carefully designed tax on long term vacant properties.”
The consultation will focus on the 26 proposals published in the Fine Gael’s Housing team’s policy paper “Vacancy and Renewal”.
The meeting will take place at 12pm on February 7. If you would like to take part in the consultation, please contact Senator Tim Lombard’s office via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 023/8829409 or call to the office at 76 South Main Street, Bandon.