Wicklow Sinn Féin TD John Brady expressing his concern at the number of vacant HSE properties across Wicklow and the wider state. Has called on the government to act immediately to ensure that these vacant properties are brought back into use for the benefit of communities and social housing. Particularly given the chronic housing shortage in the County, with many families in crisis mode.
Information revealed to the Public Accounts Committee following questioning of HSE officials by Brady revealed the existence of 214 vacant properties across the state, while a number of these properties were listed with a value of just under €10 million – a full valuation is not available as many currently listed as being under review. Leading to a potential value which is substantially higher. Many of the properties are now just sites, with the former properties having been demolished.
Brady also requested details on the costs of safely securing the sites, many of which have been idle for over 8 years. While it was acknowledged that there continue to be substantial expenses incurred in relation to security and other costs, the HSE did not have the figures available, but undertook to commence work to gather the relevant information to Brady.
There are 13 properties in Wicklow listed on the schedule of properties released by the HSE. A number of which are listed as being in disposal, with others under review, awaiting a decision regarding what will become of them. While a full valuation of the properties in Wicklow is not available, those that are listed have a value of approx. €1.725 million.
Brady said: “Following requests which I made to the HSE at a recent meeting of the Public Accounts Committee it has been revealed that across our county here in Wicklow we have vacant properties valued at almost one and three quarters million euro.
“Two of the properties in Wicklow, Trudder House, and Delgany Health Centre are listed as being among the top five valued properties on the list. Trudder House being valued at €1.2 million, and Delgany at €385,000.
“While I welcome the fact that there has been some engagement with Wicklow County Council in respect of the disposal, and future use of these properties, this has been ad hoc.
“Some of these properties have left lying idle for over 8 years. All the while the cost of providing security and associated costs have accumulated.
“The current reality we are faced with it is the fact that there is a housing crisis. Families across the county are struggling to source and fund accommodation needs.
“Alongside this we have community groups, who play a vital role within our communities struggling to source venues. Some of whom have been forced to close as a result of crippling rent costs.
“There are 13 HSE properties listed here in Wicklow as being vacant. And although there are 214 listed vacant across the state, at a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee where I questioned HSE officials at length on this issue last month, the HSE Chief Financial Officer Stephen Mulvany revealed that there was roughly 400 vacant HSE properties across the state. Which if taken pro-rata, could have the effect of increasing the actual number in Wicklow substantially.
Brady concluded: “The state needs an active land management agency. Currently the Land Development Agency has no authority to compulsory purchase disused properties and lacks the power to compel state bodies to reduce their holdings.
“This is not acceptable in the midst of an unprecedented housing crisis. These buildings need to be brought back into use. There is a clear demand. There are clear benefits. But no clear pathway to do so.
“They have been left as a blight on the landscape, while the taxpayer foots the bill of providing security, and other additional costs, on properties left idle. Properties which could be put to good use by communities.
“The government needs to act with the urgency that the situation demands and put in place the provisions that will allow these disused but valuable properties to be back into use for the benefit of communities and social housing.”