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O’Dowd: Planning exemption could help fill vacant Ardee spaces

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The former Martin's boutique and drapery in Ardee. Photo Credit: Adrian Crawley.
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This article originally appeared on ThisIsArdee.ie

Fergus O’Dowd, TD for Louth, has welcomed draft regulations that will make it easier to bring vacant and under utilised commercial premises back into use, saying the move could have a positive impact on towns such as Ardee.

The regulations which are to go before the Oireachtas early next year, would allow certain vacant commercial premises such as empty retail units and “over the shop” type spaces to be converted to homes without the need for planning permission.

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O’Dowd, who has in the past voiced his opinion that more can be done to bring vacant commercial and residential properties in Louth back into use, supports the move.

“I have consistently called on my government colleagues to re-introduce The “LOTS” scheme, to bring in the living city initiative to Drogheda and Dundalk and to introduce a tax on vacant properties to not only ease the housing shortage but also to re-populate and breathe life back into our town centres,” he said this week.

“These draft regulations brought forward to government today, if approved by the Oireachtas, will allow certain vacant commercial premises such as empty retail units and “over the shop” type spaces to be converted to homes without the need for planning permission.”

“Minster Murphy confirmed to me that he intends to streamline the various regulatory requirements relating to the conversion of vacant spaces for residential use. All elements of the three sets of proposals brought forward today have the potential to have a very real and positive impact on towns such as Drogheda, Ardee and Dundalk.”

The move would essentially mean that a change of use planning permission would be made exempt in certain cases relating to the conversion of vacant commercial premises for residential use. It was announced by Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy T.D., and Minister Damien English T.D on Thursday.

Ardee town has no shortage of vacant commercial buildings – both ground floor main areas, as well as many first and second floor spaces which are currently under utilised.

Minister Murphy commented, “This will have the dual benefit of facilitating the bringing on stream of urgently needed housing supply in high demand areas while simultaneously breathing new life into inner-core urban areas many of which have been adversely affected by the economic downturn.”

“The Government is fully committed to bringing as many vacant properties as possible back into use and maximising the use of existing resources. These new regulations will make it easier for property owners to re-imagine the use of vacant and under-used buildings without having to go through the planning process

Ardee Municipal District councillor Dolores Minogue also voiced her support for the move. “It’s a great initiative. There are people who want to come in and live in towns and be close to all amenities – bus stops and doctors surgeries, mass etc. Everybody can benefit from it and I really welcome it.”

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