Manual aimed at property owners, the public, local authorities and construction industry; planning exemption introduced in 2018 allows for change of use of certain vacant commercial buildings to domestic use without requirement for planning permission

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The Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, Damien English TD, has unveiled a manual to help property owners, the public, local authorities and the construction industry to developing vacant building.

Bringing Back Homes – Manual‘ for the reuse of existing buildings aims to help increase housing supply as well as rejuvenate town centres and city streets. The government’s ‘Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness’, commits to bringing vacant and partially vacant properties back into use.

Minister English said: “The centres of our towns and cities contain a large amount of underused built stock, including unused or underused floors above ground-floor retail premises.

“To increase the supply of new homes, we must encourage the reuse of such floor space for residential use. Revitalising our main streets through well-designed refurbishment of residential units, particularly above shops, could help to increase housing stock and rejuvenate smaller town centres and city streets.”

The manual contains:


1.) An outline of the process and issues to be considered when developing existing buildings for residential purposes. It applies these procedures to four common building types that lie vacant in towns and cities across Ireland.
2.) A suite of reuse options for the four common building types and elaborates on the complexity associated with each option.
3.) An overview of the technical requirements associated with creating ‘over the shop’ space into residential units.

Minister English added: “This manual is a resource which supports the good work of the vacant homes officers in local authorities. I urge all interested in developing existing buildings, be they developers or property owners, to use these central contact points if they need clarity on regulatory requirements and how they apply to development. I want to thank all involved in producing this document for their work.

“Through the publication of this manual the government is providing another support to those who can reuse existing buildings for housing stock or the rejuvenation of our towns and streets. This is a valuable contribution to addressing the challenges we face in the area of housing, including combating homelessness, and urban regeneration.”

‘Bringing Back Homes – Manual’ for the reuse of existing buildings can be downloaded at: https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/home-ownership/vacant-homes/vacant-homes

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The Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, Damien English TD, has unveiled a manual to help property owners, the public, local authorities and the construction industry to developing vacant building. 'Bringing Back Homes – Manual' for the reuse of existing buildings aims to help increase housing supply as...