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New Scheme Needed To Attract Families Back Into Tipperary Town Centres.

Independent TD Mr Michael McNamara.

Hundreds of town centre buildings across Tipperary could, and should, be brought back into residential use through the introduction of an EU-backed funding scheme, according to one Independent candidate for Ireland South in the upcoming European Elections.

Independent TD Mr Michael McNamara is advocating for greater funding as part of the European Green Deal to increase Ireland’s housing stock, through the conversion and renovation of upper floors, over commercial business units.

He said that many Tipperary business premises, which once had families living over them, now lie empty over ground level for a variety of reasons, including particularly building regulations and insurance costs.

“Market towns like Thurles, Nenagh, Tipperary, Carrick-on-Suir, Cashel, Clonmel and Cahir have streets full of fine old buildings where there is a retail unit at ground level and in many but not all cases, they are vacant over ground level. Decades ago, there were families living in them,” explained McNamara.

He continued, “I don’t underestimate the difficulty of converting those back into residential use. There are regulations and issues around financing, but it would offer many benefits not just in housing, but also benefits for the environment and for society.
Bringing vacant buildings back into use, whether for business or residential purposes, injects life into our towns and villages and delivers homes,” said Mr McNamara.
“Everybody agrees that vacant units and dereliction is a problem and that we need to bring these properties back into use, but nobody seems to be doing anything about it in the midst of a housing crisis and unprecedented demand for residential property in towns and villages across the whole country.”

Mr McNamara, who is currently an Independent TD for Clare, cited how a team of Irish architects who attended the 2018 Venice Biennale, (Latter a International Cultural Exhibition hosted annually in Italy), had highlighted how market towns could be reinvigorated.

He stated, “I have seen European cities and towns, such as Porto, transform their town centres by getting people back living in them. There appears to be little if any movement in this regard in Ireland which is a massive, wasted opportunity when we look at how our town centres are becoming dead zones after business hours due to there being few people living there. While the Government’s Croí Cónaithe Scheme was a step in the right direction, I have been contacted by many who found it overly bureaucratic. It is clear from canvassing across the constituency that, despite good intentions, it has not worked.
I recently raised the issue in the Dáil with the former Taoiseach Mr Leo Varadkar who said there was merit to my proposal to introduce a pilot project to bring properties in market towns back into residential use,”
added Deputy McNamara.

“As always, financing appears to be a stumbling block. Fire regulations are another. While it is essential that all dwellings must be safe, if medieval buildings across European cities can be safely inhabited, it must be possible to look at this anew and introduce to ensure that these buildings can again host families on the main streets of our towns and cities. If I am elected as MEP for Ireland South, I will advocate for funding as part of the European Green Deal to be diverted to convert vacant above shop units“, Deputy McNamara concluded.

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