Local Minister of State with responsibility for Planning and Local Government, Deputy Peter Burke, together with the Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O’Brien and Minister of State, Deputy Malcolm Noonan, recently launched a new €50m Croí Cónaithe (Towns ) Fund which will support bringing vacant and underused buildings in Westmeath’s towns and villages back into residential use.
Many areas of towns and villages face the blight of vacant properties, which, if brought back into use, could add real vibrancy to towns of all sizes across county Westmeath. This is a clear ambition of the Government’s Our Rural Future policy and of the recently published Town Centre First policy, which aims to tackle vacancy, combat dereliction and breathe new life into our town centres. It also delivers on the ambition set out in Pathway 4 of Housing for All which aims to Address Vacancy and Make Efficient Use of Existing Housing Stock.
The Scheme is set to benefit those who wish to turn a formerly vacant house or building into their principal private residence and become part of the community in the area, furthering the aim to create town centres that function as viable, vibrant and attractive locations for people to live, work and visit, while also functioning as the service, social, cultural and recreational hub for the local community.
The Fund will be delivered through local authorities who will provide a grant to support the refurbishment of vacant properties, with priority given to applications in areas where the level of vacancy or dereliction is high.
A grant of up to €30,000 will be available for the refurbishment of vacant properties for occupation as a principal private residence, including the conversion of a property which has not been used as a home before now.
Where a property is derelict, a maximum top-up grant amount of up to €20,000 will be available, bringing the total grant available for a derelict property up to a maximum of €50,000. This can also be combined with the SEAI Better Energy Home Scheme that covers works of up to €26,750.
“Today’s new fund is a part of a suite of measures undertaken by the government to tackle vacancy. It will be complemented by the upcoming Vacant Property Tax to help bring more properties back into use across Westmeath.
“The Croí Cónaithe (Towns ) Fund is another key delivery milestone in the Government’s Housing for All plan and supporting home ownership. Recently we launched our new Home First Scheme, announced affordable and cost rental accommodation to be developed through the Land Development Agency at Shanganagh and promoted the development of apartments for owner occupiers through the Croí Conaithe Cities fund.
“This scheme becomes our latest addition to boosting home ownership by supporting people to refurbish vacant properties to become their homes, enabling them to live in towns and villages and addressing vacancy through sustainable reuse. At the same we are adding to the vibrancy of towns and villages across the country and supporting local communities. I also intend extending the scheme further into city areas with high vacancy or dereliction in the coming months,” Deputy Burke asserted.