People who own unoccupied private properties in rural towns throughout Donegal need a tax incentive to bring them back into use as homes, a Fine Gael general election candidate has said.
Cllr Marty Harley claimed such an initiative would revitalise town centres in rural regions.
“Plenty of towns across the countryside are suffering from extensive property vacancy or dereliction. A lot of the time, it is just a fact of changing times.
"Where once a small butchers or a bike shop was a thriving business in a Donegal town, times have changed and the premises may no longer be suitable to compete with out of town stores and bigger shopping centres.
“However, this does not mean that our town centres should be left in decline, instead we must see this as an opportunity to revitalise our town centres as thriving residential areas where people can live at the heart of our communities."
Cllr Harley added: “For many people a building at the centre of a small town may have been the site of a family business which is no longer in operation but the cost of converting it to a modern living space may be prohibitive.
“That is why I believe that a financial incentive in terms of a tax break is needed to ensure that people have the opportunity to convert vacant or derelict buildings for residential use.
“In addition to introducing a tax incentive I believe we need to have additional supports for people to help them navigate the planning and development process if we want to see people take up this opportunity.
“The planning process can be daunting for people who have no experience of it and having a dedicated point of contact for people to help them move through the process.
“Fine Gael in government has invested hugely and plans to continue doing so in improving our towns and villages through the Town and Village Renewal Scheme and the Urban and Rural Regeneration Schemes
“With this investment the prospect of living at the heart of our towns and villages will become increasingly attractive, and we need to ensure that there are opportunities for people to do so," he said.
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