Charity urges Government to extend vacancy legislation to allow more housing development

The Peter McVerry Trust said the SI30 regulation has allowed it to increase the number of one-bedroom homes it uses to rehouse people who are exiting homelessness
Charity urges Government to extend vacancy legislation to allow more housing development

Pictured in November 2020 is Pat Doyle (right), CEO of the Peter McVerry Trust, with Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien, as the trust launched a new social housing programme. Picture: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

A housing and homeless charity has called on the Government to extend the deadline for a key regulation that has allowed it to bring long-term vacant buildings back into use as homes, while also tackling dereliction.

The Peter McVerry Trust said the SI30 regulation has allowed it to increase the number of one-bedroom homes it uses to rehouse people who are exiting homelessness.

Under the regulation, which is due to expire at the end of the year, a building must be vacant for two years before it can be considered for conversion into residential units to which the building regulations apply, and a maximum of nine residential units is permitted under the scheme.

The trust has now written to Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien asking him to consider extending by two years the timeframe that SI30 can be applied so that it can continue to deliver more homes, and ensure some of the SI30 schemes delayed by Covid-19 are delivered.

Chief executive Pat Doyle said SI30 has meant more one-bedroom homes have been delivered in areas where there may not have been any to buy or rent.

“If we look right across the country, there is a mismatch between housing availability and housing need,” he said.

“The existence of SI30 has played a key role in helping ensure we have access to more one-bedroom homes at a scale which suits the needs of people we work with and does not create any burden on existing communities or streets.” 

The trust is currently working on several SI30 schemes countrywide that will deliver one-bedroom homes on long-term leases for 25 years in Cork, Dublin, Kerry, Wexford and Mayo.

“These units are vital as we are able to support more single people, who are the largest cohort in homelessness and on the wider social housing list, into their own homes,” Mr Doyle said.

This week alone, we have secured approval in Cork City for a further 10 one-bedroom apartments across two properties in the city centre as a result of SI30."

He said the trust was working hard to deliver as many homes for people in need as it can and that while it looks at every opportunity and avenue of getting access to new social housing units, the SI30 regulation has been a very successful option.

“We have had lots of success in tackling long-term vacant properties across Ireland,” he said.

“Successfully reusing vacant buildings has lots of benefits – it increases supply, tackles dereliction, revives urban centres and makes sure more one-bedroom homes come on stream.

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