Senator Fitzpatrick calls for budget 2021 to amend the Living City initiative

Published on: 06 October 2020

Fianna Fáil Senator Mary Fitzpatrick has called for the Government to amend the Living City initiative from a tax credit incentive to a grant payment on a trial basis for a limited time period. 

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. 

Senator Fitzpatrick has suggested that the Government provide a once-off stimulus grant for renovation of vacant commercial properties into residential homes similar to the Serviced Site Fund that the Government provides to stimulate the building of new affordable homes.  

 The Governments Serviced Site Fund of approximately €50k subsidises the building of new affordable homes.   

Senator Fitzpatrick 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.   

Senator Fitzpatrick who has written to the Minister said: “Covid19 has decimated footfall in Dublin city and this is having a damaging effect on retail, commercial, restaurant and hospitality in the city.  DCC and Dublin Town both record stronger footfall on the north side of the inner city which they attribute to the fact that there is more residential accommodation on the north side of the inner city than the south.  My recommendation is based on Dublin City but colleagues from around the country report the same issue is affecting their cities and town centres.   

“I have written to the Minister to ask will he consider amending 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 properties for residential use.   

“Increasing take-up of 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 economy, reduce carbon emissions,  increase footfall in our retail/commercial districts and thus support our SME, Hospitality and retail sectors.   

“DCC operates a free dedicated “One Stop Shop” Advisory Team to assist applicants with issues surrounding Planning, Architecture, Fire Prevention, Building Control, Conservation etc. The DCC’s LCI Unit actively promotes the scheme has produced a guide to the scheme to help owners and investors to access the scheme and encourage the re-use of buildings in the designated Special Regeneration Area (SRA).   

“The Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government (DOHPLG) previously updated the scheme in order to make it more attractive and effective. These changes were approved and are in place since 2017. 

“Unfortunately, despite continuous promotion of the LCI by Dublin City Council, the number of applications submitted is disappointing.  In early 2019 Dublin City Council distributed over 12,500 leaflets within key areas of the SRA, but only received 78 applications of interest.   Furthermore, only 28 of the 78 applications submitted a Certificate of Completion. Dublin City Council contacted the outstanding applicants to offer the assistance of the One Stop Shop team, but this did not produce any increase in take up,” concluded Senator Fitzpatrick.