Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government

Draft Planning and Development (LRD Fees) Regulations 2021: Motion

Photo of Malcolm NoonanMalcolm Noonan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Green Party)
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I look forward to that session with Frank O'Connor and Jude Sherry. They have done fantastic work in highlighting dereliction in Cork city. We have major challenges and opportunities in our town centres. The Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke, will hopefully be moving on the Town Centre First policy soon and we hope to address this issue of vacancy.

From my perspective as the Minister of State with special responsibility for heritage and built heritage, I am astounded at the value we could find in our town centres through the regeneration of older historical properties that can be brought back to a high level of thermal comfort for families to live in. That can be done for social houses built by approved housing bodies, AHBs, as well as for houses for private purchase for families. That brings us back to the whole suite of arguments in this context, including transport-related mobility and compact living in respect of the growth of vibrant town centres.

Therefore, an open door is being pushed by the members in this regard. We have not reached anything near the full potential of what we should be doing in this area. Our Department gives out very good grants for the regeneration and repurposing of older buildings, and that undertaking could be a huge contributor in addressing our housing crisis. I agree wholeheartedly with Deputy Gould and the Chair regarding the potential that lies in our town centres.