At the recent Ennis Municipal District Meeting, I requested a pragmatic action plan by Clare County Council to get the large vacant housing stock in Ennis back into residential use. There are 1,072 people on the Council Housing list for Ennis and up to 100 adults and children in emergency accommodation. I am committed to proper and safe building standards but is the application of current building standards to vacant older houses in Ennis a contributing factor to the housing crisis.
Siobhán McNulty, Senior Executive Officer, replied as follows:
At the time of reply, there are 1099 on the housing list with a preference of Ennis; 585 applicants are currently in HAP accommodation with 514 remaining in need of accommodation. The Social Directorate welcomes proposals by owners’ and developers to address the above shop vacancy that exits in the County town. It should be noted that we are to shortly advertise for expression of interest from owners/developers for schemes of social housing units. The recent change in Planning legislation should encourage developers to address vacancy.
The 2016 census indicated 1,438 vacant properties in the Ennis Municipal district, in compiling the Vacant Homes Action Plan for Clare we identified that this figure is overstated. Having analysed the data we have determined there are 329 vacant properties (as per the Geo Directory database) to be inspected to ascertain their suitability for social housing. The story behind the vacancy can only be determined by fieldwork, this is a slow and arduous task with little yield.
We welcome discussion with owners of these vacant properties and wish to advise of the various funding mechanisms available to return vacant stock to productive use - namely the “repair to lease” and “ buy and renew” schemes (details of which are available of the Council and Department of Housing Planning and Local Government websites).