€50m Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund Welcomed
I welcome the new €50m Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund to Refurbish Vacant properties as an exciting opportunity for home ownership and town centre revitalisation. The new €50m Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund will support bringing vacant and underused buildings in our towns and villages back into residential use.
The Town Centre First (TCF) policy is a Green Party policy with clear ambition to tackle vacancy, combat dereliction and breathe new life into our town centres. The Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund is a scheme aligned to the TCF policy and for those who wish to turn a formerly vacant house or building into their principal private residence and become part of the community in the area. I am very excited to see this scheme contribute to the revival of town centres in Laois and Offaly. The Midlands has so much to offer those who remain, return or choose to make their lives here and this is one further step in the right direction.
Under the scheme a grant of up to €30,000 will be available for the refurbishment of vacant properties for occupation as a principal private residence. This includes the conversion of a property which has not been used as a home before now. There is a top-up grant available to a maximum of €20,000 where a house or other property is derelict. In these cases the total grant available for a derelict property is up to a maximum of €50,000. And importantly - this can also be combined with the SEAI Better Energy Home Scheme that covers works of up to €26,750. This really is a win for the individual or family, a win for the community and a win for the planet.
The Fund will be delivered through local authorities who will provide a grant to support the refurbishment of vacant properties, with priority given to applications in areas where the level of vacancy or dereliction is high.
· Properties considered for inclusion must be vacant for two years or more and built before 1993.
Confirmation of vacancy can be validated and verified by the use of, for example, Utility Bills which can help determine vacancy periods (e.g. pattern of usage or disconnection) or such other proofs as are available to the satisfaction of the local authority.
· The scheme is exclusively available to individuals or households for which the property will be their principal private residence. It is not available to undertakings and/or developers, etc.
· A Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) Better Energy Home Scheme Grant may be available in combination with this grant. Works covered by SEAI Better Energy Homes Scheme will therefore not be covered.
· Proof of both vacancy and ownership will be required to support the grant payment. In terms of ownership, it is a matter for the applicant to confirm ownership with the local authority.
· A local authority may give approval in principle to a grant application where the applicant is able to provide evidence of active negotiations to purchase a property i.e. confirmation of engagement from the estate agency or owner of the property and where the owner provides such evidence as to vacancy as is required under the scheme on behalf of the applicant.
·The following categories of works will be eligible for grant assistance, subject to a reasonable cost assessment by the local authority and to any limits for specific works:
o Substructure works, including works to foundations, rising walls, floor slabs, damp-proofing and underpinning
o Structural works to superstructure, including walls, party walls, chimneys, suspended timber floors, structural timbers
o Works to internal walls, stairs, and landings, and internal wall completions including doors, windows, and applied finishes
o External walls completions including doors, windows, sills, and applied finishes
o Roof completions, including flashings, fascias, soffits, gutters, downpipes
o Building services including plumbing, heating, ventilation, electrical services, telecommunications
o Painting and decoration required because of works carried out
o Extension within the ambit of exempt development under planning regulations, as part of a wider refurbishment
o Necessary external works and site development works carried out within the curtilage of the site
o Professional services associated with works
There are over 500 towns and villages in Ireland with a population of over 400 people. It is intended that the Crói Cónaithe Fund will apply in all such towns, and also to some smaller villages, which may not be defined towns or villages for the purposes of the CSO Census mapping but with sufficient provision of services and amenities.
·While initially the Fund will not apply to towns within the city and suburb boundaries of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford, as defined by the CSO Census mapping, the potential for inclusion of such towns within cities and suburbs will be further considered during the initial phase of the programme.
Towns outside of the city and suburb boundary in the CSO Census are defined as a separate ‘town’ and will therefore be eligible, e.g. Balbriggan.
Applicants may only avail of the grant once in keeping with the requirement that it be their principal private residence.