Louth County Council praised for bringing vacant properties back into use

The council are acquiring derelict properties from banks and giving them to people in need

Tia Clarke

Reporter:

Tia Clarke

Email:

tia.clarke@dundalkdemocrat.ie

Castle Road Dundalk

26 Castle Road, Dundalk is currently being renovated by Louth County Council

An article in today's Irish Times has lauded Louth County Council as "an exemplar for bringing vacant properties back into use".

The article highlights the work being carried out by Louth County Council to secure neglected "eyesore properties" being held by banks in order to house people in need. 

The report reveals Louth County Council acquired a derelict property at 3 St Bridget’s Terrace, Dundalk (otherwise known as Happy Valley), at the end of 2015 restored the derelict house and offered it to local man Peter Thornton. 

Mr. Thorton is a widower who was left living alone in isolated conditions in Ravensdale after his wife and four children died in separate accidents. 

Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr. Thorton said: “I was feeling so lonely, I asked for a transfer. I would go home in the evening time at 3pm , and that would be it until the following morning.

"When I woke up in the morning all I could see was a field, a horse and a cow. Now I am walking everywhere, and I am among people. I can talk to and see people.”

In 2015, Louth County Council also acquired two homes and refurbished them in Doolargy Avenue in Muirhevnamor. The properties had been used by squatters and drug-users.

The article reports that things had gotten so bad with these two homes, Louth County Council couldn't re-let other houses in the estate because of the derelict homes beside them "despite a waiting list of 4,000 households". 

“We couldn’t re-let our own houses because of the units beside them,” Louth County Council director of services Joe McGuinness told The Irish Times. 

The council's latest project is 26 Castle Road, Dundalk. The home was acquired by Louth County Council, and is currently being renovated after neighbours complained the home was a "structural menace". 

To date, the scheme has seen the council put 54 vacant properties back into use, 22 of which are already tenanted.

The Irish Times also reported: "A further 16 CPOs are being prepared, and between 20 and 30 houses are being reviewed as potential targets, which means the council has brought back into use or will bring back into use 100 properties." 

Mr Mc Guinness, of Louth County Council, advised other local authorities to go after the banks.  

He told The Irish Times: “Most of them whinge but we go ahead with it anyway. If one bank came forward with their vacant properties portfolio and offered it, that would amount to a cost-saving for local authorities. If that was addressed we could get huge tranches of properties that are in the possession of the banks.”