The Green Party in Ireland has put forward a new bill aimed at revitalizing vacant and derelict buildings. The Dereliction and Building Regeneration Bill 2022, introduced by Steven Matthews TD, the Green Party spokesperson for planning and local government, proposes practical measures to address the housing crisis and reduce the carbon impact of construction.
Deputy Matthews emphasized the importance of the proposed legislation, stating that in order to tackle the housing crisis, it is crucial to expedite the refurbishment of older buildings for housing. He expressed concern over the fact that there are numerous vacant houses and buildings throughout the country while many people struggle to find accommodation. The bill aims to assist owners in repurposing these empty buildings and above-shop units to create homes.
Deputy Matthews highlighted the issue of neglected and derelict buildings blighting many towns and villages, and emphasized the need to refocus efforts on converting them into homes within town centers. The Green Party argues that the current legislation for derelict sites, which has been in place since the 1990s, is no longer fit for purpose. The proposed bill suggests simple and practical changes to modernize the approach, such as expanding the definition of derelict sites and giving the Minister for Housing the power to direct local authorities to compulsorily purchase long-term vacant sites.
The Green Party is committed to revitalizing towns, villages, and cities and ensuring they are suitable for people and families to live, work, and enjoy recreational activities. The bill aims to breathe life back into town centers, which are often the heart of communities and have significant potential.
One of the issues highlighted by the Green Party is the inability to record derelict properties in many towns and villages due to the requirement for the minister to define which areas are considered “urban” under the Derelict Sites Act. To address this, the bill expands the definition of urban land to cover all land in towns, villages, and cities, removing the need for ministerial regulations to define urban areas.
The Green Party also proposes a new application process called a “Town Centres First application,” which aims to streamline the consenting process for building upgrades in older buildings, focusing on fire safety and accessibility. The process would maintain high standards and require independent inspection. This would provide certainty to owners, architects, and builders seeking to renovate or convert vacant units, particularly those located above shops.
The Dereliction and Building Regeneration Bill 2022 put forward by the Green Party seeks to address the issue of vacant and derelict buildings in Ireland. It proposes practical changes to the current legislation, expands the definition of urban land, and introduces a streamlined application process for building upgrades. The bill aims to bring life back into town centers and ensure that they serve as vibrant hubs for local communities.