New plan unveiled to transform 'ghost shops' into homes
A radical new proposal to turn vacant shops and businesses in rural towns into houses and apartments could "breathe new life" into beleaguered towns and villages across the country.
As fears grow of a two-tier property recovery - with Dublin and the commuter belt surging ahead of the rest of the country - new ways must be found to keep rural communities alive.
Now, the national group representing auctioneers say a simple, and relatively cheap tax incentive could ensure sustainable rural rejuvenation and development.
Eamon O'Flaherty - incoming president of the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV) says tax reliefs could be used to convert "non-viable commercial buildings" into liveable dwellings.
Thousands of old grocery stores, butchers, bakers and other small outlets that have become vacant since the crash may never be used as shops again.
Under the proposed measure, these "ghost" stores could be converted back into residential units for young families.
Speaking at IPAV's annual conference in Maynooth, Mr O'Flaherty, of Property Partners Brady, told auctioneers such a move would have multiple knock-on impacts for the local economy and community.
"The first to see the lift would be local tradesmen and women. Next would be other retail outlets, then the schools," he said stressing that without reasonable incentives and political will "no scheme will succeed in our rural towns".
"My belief is that we need a generous and broad-based scheme if we are to breathe life into our town centres again," he said.