Property business group calls for vacant shops to be converted to homes

Property Industry Ireland said an average of 21,000 housing units per year must be built to meet the soaring demand for accommodation in Ireland.

The group, which represents businesses working in the property and construction sector, is launching its submission for Budget 2016 today.

They are calling on the Government to prioritise resources to fund affordable, owner-occupied rental properties and social housing.

Housing Agency figures indicate an extra 5,600 new homes per year are needed in Dublin alone- with this figure rising to 8,900 new homes per year by 2018.

Peter Stafford, Director of Property Industry Ireland, said vacant shop units could be converted to alleviate the housing shortage.

"If there are shops which have never been used, which are likely to be vacant for a long time, then we should be looking at measures to convert them into residential units," he said.

"Ground floor residential units are of extreme importance for people who have disabilities [for example]."

The group also say there is a deficit in purpose-built student accommodation- forcing third level students to compete in the rental market with working professionals.

Stafford said more official student accommodation would take the pressure off of the rental sector.

"What we're seeing is in Bristol and Birmingham and Manchester, you have student accommodation - designed for students to live in," he said.

"There's smaller rooms, less need for communal areas, but on-site gyms [and] good laundry facilities, and so on.

"If we can get that written into the planning system, I think we can get students living in the housing that they need."

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