Mary has called for the Minister for Finance to amend the Living City initiative from a tax credit incentive to a grant payment and to extend it to include rural towns.
The Living City Initiative was first launched in 2015 and relaunched in 2018. Since 2018 Dublin City Council received 119 valid applications for the scheme, of these only 59 applications have been successfully processed/finalised following the completion of conversion/refurbishment works.
Speaking this week in the Seanad, Mary said “the tax credit scheme has failed to trigger regeneration of our inner cities and towns. Government needs to recognise this and amend the scheme to provide a once-off stimulus grant for renovation of inner city and rural town vacant commercial properties into residential homes. A new “Living City & Towns” grant, similar to the Serviced Site Fund that the Government provides to stimulate the building of new affordable homes, extended to include rural towns should be launched.”
In 2019 DCC reported that the Irish Property Owners Association identified that a grant-based incentive, rather than a tax relief-based incentive, like that in Amsterdam may result in a greater volume of interest. The Amsterdam incentive (2015/2016) offered a grant of up to €25,000 to store owners to convert unused space on their premises to homes. This resulted in the occupation of 850 apartments, many of them on upper floors above shops.
The Serviced Site Fund provides approximately €50k per home for the building of new affordable homes. Mary has proposed that the Government offer a similar grant stimulus of up to €25k to trigger the regeneration and renovation of vacant properties into residential homes.
Mary has written to the Minister stating: “Our housing crisis has not gone away. Additionally, Covid19 restrictions has decimated footfall in Dublin city and this is having a devastating impact on retail, commercial, restaurant and hospitality in the city.”
Mary has asked the Minister to amend the Living City Initiative in Budget 2021 to make a grant payment available, on a time limited basis, to stimulate property owners to renovate vacant inner-city and rural town properties for residential use.
Increasing take-up and expanding the Living City Initiative will improve residential housing supply in our inner cities and towns, help address the housing crisis, reverse vacancy and dereliction, create employment, stimulate the local economy, reduce carbon emissions, increase footfall in our retail/commercial districts and thus support our SME, Hospitality and retail sectors.