Measures to address vacant buildings in towns, to repurpose or adapt vacant commercial properties for housing, social, economic and cultural benefits and to revitalise town centres are proposed by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland in its pre-Budget submission to the Government.
It asks the Government to examine barriers and opportunities and to encourage local authorities to proactively address vacant buildings which impact on the vitality of towns and which discourage future investment.
"It is imperative that local authorities work with owners and overcome issues of fragmented ownership to find new uses using a targeted and co-ordinated approach," says its president Micheál Mahon.
The submission calls for resources for the one-stop shop support for building owners to ensure successful renovation of property.
"New measures to simplify the process of conversion of commercial use to residential use must be communicated to building owners and other stakeholders to ensure awareness," he adds.
SCSI calls on local authorities to use compulsory purchase orders more often where this will be of benefit to the wider plan for the high street or town - the wider benefit for the local community should be of consideration. Encouraging anchor tenants, such as supermarkets, back into the town can provide a focus for high streets and encourage investment.
It also suggests that local rates exemptions should only apply to hardship cases.