For Oral Answer on : 18/05/2023
Question Number(s): 129 Question Reference(s): 23076/23
Department: Housing, Local Government and Heritage
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage the supports, if any, in place by his Department to encourage over the shop living; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Planning and Development (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2018 provided for an exemption, up until the end of 2021, from the requirement to obtain planning permission in respect of the change of use of certain vacant commercial premises, including vacant or under-utilised areas over ground-floor shops and offices, to residential use. This measure was aimed at facilitating the productive re-use of qualifying vacant commercial buildings as homes, while also facilitating urban renewal and increasing housing supply.
Under Housing for All, the planning exemptions under the 2018 Regulations were subsequently extended until the end of 2025 by way of the Planning and Development (Exempted Development) Regulations 2022. These Regulations included a new and additional class of premises eligible to avail of the planning exemption, that of public houses capable of providing up to a maximum of 9 residential units.
Since the planning exemptions for the conversion of vacant commercial premises were first introduced in 2018, local authorities have received a total of 898 notifications relating to the provision of 2,066 additional homes throughout the country, if activated.
While not specifically focused on promoting living over the shop, my Department recently completed a six week multi-channel advertising campaign highlighting the supports available to people who wish to buy, lease or sell a vacant property, or convert vacant commercial property into a home. The first phase of the campaign focused on the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant while the second phase focused on some of the other supports and schemes available such as the Repair and Leasing Scheme and the planning exemption for the conversion of commercial premises into residential units. Further information on available schemes and supports is contained in the following link: https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/ef77b-refurbishing-vacant-property/.
This work is in addition to the “Bringing Back Homes – Manual for the Reuse of Existing Buildings’, (www.gov.ie/en/publication/3c790-bringing-back-homes-print-version/) that was published by my Department in 2018. Created as a reference guide, the manual aims to provide property owners, members of the public, local authorities and those involved in the construction sector with clear guidance on how current regulatory requirements – including the building control requirements – apply to common, existing building types, when seeking to refurbish or convert existing buildings for residential use.