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Pilot scheme needed to begin turning former pubs into Cost Rental homes – Cummins

30th December 2021 - Senator John Cummins

A planning exemption to enable the conversion of former pubs into homes will help drive the much-needed supply of housing across our cities, towns and villages, a Fine Gael Senator has said

Waterford Senator John Cummins, who has been working on this proposal for some time, is now calling for a pilot scheme to begin in Waterford which would build on the success of the Repair and Lease Scheme in the city and open it up to the delivery of Cost Rental homes for middle income earners.

Senator Cummins said, “The confirmation today by Minister O’Brien that the regulations to exempt certain developments from planning will be amended to include former vacant pubs is hugely welcome. This is something I’ve been campaigning on for many months at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing and directly with Ministers Darragh O’Brien and Peter Burke in the Department of Housing.

“The potential to turn vacant pubs into housing was also a key feature of the Fine Gael paper on housing vacancy published recently by my colleague Deputy Emer Higgins and I.

“At a recent hearing of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, officials from both Waterford City and County Council and Dublin City Council supported my call to extend the exemption to former pubs.

“We now really need to look at a pilot scheme based on the Repair and Lease model where units could be provided for Cost Rental Accommodation, not just social, to ensure we achieve a mix of tenure types. Waterford City and County Council are ready to do this and would be well placed to start a pilot given that they have delivered nearly 50% of all Repair and Lease units nationally thus far.

“It’s vital that we don’t hamper the effectiveness of this measure by restricting the size of premises to which this new measure will apply. It would be illogical for a large shop on one corner to be converted to a residential use without the need for planning while a large vacant and derelict pub on the other corner would still require planning. The new regulations will need to be broad to cater for all eventualities.

“Vacant pubs are often in prominent locations, close to all services and amenities and would make excellent residential units. In fact, many may have originally started off as residential units. The failure to include vacant pubs/restaurants under the previous regulations often resulted in long term planning delays for what would in many cases be internal works. With this new exemption, there is real potential here to drive much needed housing supply across our cities, towns and villages, where even before the onset of Covid-19, there were many vacant and derelict pubs.”

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