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More vacant homes in Louth than funds to return them, say Louth CoCo

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County Hall, Dundalk. Photo Credit: Barry Landy/LouthNow.ie.

Louth County Council say they face a shortfall in excess of €1.5 million of money needed to restore their vacant property stock for social housing needs in the county this year.

The issue of returning vacant properties to living standards was raised at the latest meeting of the Ardee Municipal District meeting on Thursday evening when Fine Gael councillor Dolores Minoque queried why a property in the Cappockgate estate in Ardee had been left idle for 12 months.

Senior Executive Officer Aoife Lawlor outlined the local authority currently has 103 vacant properties in their possession with an annual budget of €450,000, including government funding, to restore the properties and bring them back online.

However, Lawlor stated that based on previous costings it will likely cost “around €1 million” to make the 103 properties available whilst also telling councillors at the meeting that typically 100 properties are returned the council every year.

That estimate suggests Louth County Council will have approximately 200 vacant properties to bring online in 2020 – with a estimated cost of €2 million.

“It will be a difficult decision to decide as to which which properties are returned,” she said. “Do we do a large number of small ones, do we prioritise areas with a longer waiting list, do we do a smaller number of big properties with a lot of work required?

“This is the decision process we have to go through. None of the choices will be right. None of them will make everybody happy.”

As of the end of November 2019, there were 1,789 applicants on the social housing list in Louth with the majority (844) in the Drogheda area while 596 an 349 applicants wait for allocations in the Dundalk and Ardee districts respectively.

During the meeting, Lawlor also confirmed that the waiting list in Ardee and mid-Louth had been significantly reduced in recent times, with the wait in the district down to two years. That compares to a wait of seven to eight years in Dundalk and Drogheda.

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This has been helped by the allocations of homes in major new developments in mid-Louth such as Father Finn Park in Louth Village, an 80-home development in Dunleer and Castleguard and Bridge Gate in Ardee.

10% of all the homes in the new Bridge Gate development in Ardee will be purchased by Louth County Council to be allocated to for social housing, the local authority have confirmed.

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