Vacant properties can help meet housing targets – Naughten

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Figures from the Northern and Western Regional Assembly show some 8,000 residential units in Galway which are either vacant or derelict.

In the latest analysis from the NWRA, 6.8% of Galway’s housing stock was either vacant or derelict in 2020, above the national average.

The worst affected towns in Galway were Portumna, where 14.5% of homes are unoccupied, along with Headford (11.6%), Dunmore (10.3%), and Glenamaddy (8.5%).

Along with housing, this problem is also prevalent among commercial stock, with an average commercial vacancy rate of 13.4% in Galway in 2020.

In total, the NWRA said that there are 45,000 empty residential and commercial premises in the eight western and northern counties. The bulk of these properties, almost 43,000, are homes.

Addressing these figures in the Dáil, Galway TD Denis Naughten said that the number of vacant properties could more than meet annual housing requirements.

“The reality is that the housing crisis is not just about a lack of houses, but also our failure to have empty homes occupied by families, particularly those in our towns and villages.”

“In fact, there are whole streets in our towns and villages that have not had a football kicked on them in a generation” said Denis Naughten.

He added that if these homes were brought into use, it would provide an “immediate dividend” for rural Ireland and homeless families.

The targets in the government’s Housing For All strategy said that Ireland needs an average of 33,000 homes per year until 2030.

David Minton, Director of the NWRA, said that towns and villages “need rescuing” in the regional, or communities will continue to falter.

“If action is not taken, we face a catastrophic situation where the decentralisation and fragmentation our communities will only deepen.”

“Development has been permitted away from town centres and we have seen a huge growth of commercial and public sector services move out of core urban areas.”

Christy Hyland, Chairperson of the NWRA, said that regional assemblies should have a role in managing and distributing resources in areas experiencing high vacancy and dereliction rates.

“The importance of towns and cities to re-building and reimaging our country in light of the pandemic, is fundamental.”