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New Croí Cónaithe fund will ‘help refurbish vacant properties, increase home ownership and revitalise communities in Laois’

Laois County Council General

A new Government fund called Croí Cónaithe will support bringing vacant and underused buildings in Laois towns and villages back into residential use, a Fine Gael Councillor has said.

Councillor Conor Bergin said, “A new €50 million Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund was announced by the government last week.

“This funding will be crucial to bringing vacant and underused buildings in Laois towns and villages back into residential use.

“Fine Gael is working to create stronger safer communities and in Government we are prioritising programmes like Croí Cónaithe to achieve this.

“Many areas of towns and villages in Laois are experiencing vacancy and dereliction and we want to breathe new life into these communities and ensure they are better places in which to live, to work and to raise families.

“The Scheme is set to benefit those who wish to turn a formerly vacant house or building into their principal private residence and become part of the community in the area.

“We are working to create vibrant town centres in Laois once more.

“The Fund will be delivered through Laois County Council who will provide a grant to support the refurbishment of vacant properties, with priority given to applications in areas where the level of vacancy or dereliction is high.

“A grant of up to €30,000 will be available for the refurbishment of vacant properties for occupation as a principal private residence, including the conversion of a property which has not been used as a home before now.

“Where a property is derelict, a maximum top-up grant amount of up to €20,000 will be available, bringing the total grant available for a derelict property up to a maximum of €50,000. This can also be combined with the SEAI Better Energy Home Scheme that covers works of up to €26,750.

“It is intended that the Crói Cónaithe Fund will apply in all towns with a population of over 400 people, and also to some smaller villages, which may not be defined towns or villages for the purposes of the CSO Census mapping but with sufficient provision of services and amenities.”

Minister for State Sean Fleming added: “We all know vacant and derelict properties in towns and villages throughout the county. I would encourage people to apply for these grants as soon as possible. This grant scheme is available in towns and villages with a population of over 400 people.

“Very importantly, this scheme is available to First Time Buyers and to people who are moving from their current home which they are selling or have sold and want to live in a town or village.

“It is also available to people who previously had a home but may no longer have a legal interest in that home due to for example: divorce, separation, insolvency or bankruptcy.

“A priority for me in Government is our Housing For All Plan which specifically encourages refurbishment of vacant and derelict properties to boost housing supply locally.

“I believe there will be a strong appetite for this new scheme in County Laois which will support people acquiring a home and also at the same time breathe new life into our towns, villages and communities in County Laois.”

This Scheme is part of the Government’s Our Rural Future policy and the recently published Town Centre First policy, which aims to tackle vacancy and dereliction and breathe new life into our town centres.

It also delivers on the ambition set out in Pathway 4 of Housing for All which aims to address vacancy and make efficient use of existing housing stock.

The application form, eligibility criteria and associated FAQs as published will provide additional information to people who would like to apply for the grant. Further information will be available from the Vacant Homes Officer in each local authority.

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.