Calls were made for owners of vacant properties or homes in Offaly to be penalised to ensure that properties along the streets of towns and villages are not left idle.
Speaking at the recent meeting of Birr Municipal District, Cllr John Carroll questioned what avenues were open to the local authority to deal with the issue of vacant empty buildings and to “get these buildings back into use”.
“Not only are they an eyesore for the residents of the street but they also are housing for some people,” he outlined.
Continuing, the independent councillor said then you walk along the Main Street of Birr and there were properties over shops that the council could look at.
“I think there are a lot of other houses that we can look at and see if we can start going to put some sort of penalty for vacant properties or houses. I think we owe it to our town that these properties are not left lying there. There must be some penalty.”
Addressing the councillor's concerns, Monica Cleary, Senior Executive Officer with Offaly County Council said that they had a meeting with the housing and planning section recently to see how they could combine empty homes and derelict sites and how they try and work with the legislation to the “benefit of trying to release properties as vacant homes”.
“Last year, three houses were CPO. It doesn't sound like a lot of houses but we have two in Birr that has gone to the department to try and get funding to retrofit those houses.”
“We are proposing to continue with this programme and develop it to try and increase the capacity. It is about getting through the legal process and getting it to the department to ensure there's funding available when we do get through the process. We have put a lot of work into it in the last year and we hope to build on this in the coming years,” she explained.