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Dublin: 15 °C Tuesday 18 September, 2018
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Number of ghost estates has 'decreased by 91% since 2010'

Meanwhile, a new app is set to let members of the public report vacant buildings.

90386587_90386587 A vacant hostel on Bolton Street, Dublin, pictured in July 2015 Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Updated 2.10pm 

A NEW SMARTPHONE app is set to let members of the public mark buildings as being vacant in a bid to alleviate the homeless crisis.

Reusing Dublin, as the app is named, was launched today in the capital.

The app, the brainchild of homelessness charity the Peter McVerry Trust in conjunction with Dublin-based social enterprise Space Engagers (Reusing Dublin is really a sub-function of the Space Engagers app itself), aims to combat the issue of vacant properties sitting unused in the face of a national supply crisis.

Vacant property is a hot-topic issue in Ireland at present, with dozens of developers fighting to keep their lands off the vacant sites list at the same time homelessness action groups are calling for such property to be made available to ease the ongoing crisis.

Homeless figures in Ireland continue to balloon. 14 people slept on the streets of Dublin during the worst of the Storm Emma blizzards last Thursday.

In separate figures released today, the government said the number of so-called ghost estates has reduced by 91% since 2010.

An official launch for the app is taking place this afternoon by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone at the social media giant’s European headquarters in Dublin.

Space Engagers’ co-founder Philip Crowe said that “locals know their communities better than anyone else”, adding that “this local knowledge can play a key role in turning empty buildings back into homes”.

Screenshot_20180306-191714 The Reusing Dublin interface on Android

Reusing Dublin functions by allowing users to mark vacant buildings per their own knowledge, information that is then logged to an online database, which will be open to viewing by the public via the project’s website here (buildings can also be marked online via the website).

“We see empty buildings as spaces with the potential to transform the lives of people impacted by homelessness in Dublin,” said Francis Doherty of the Peter McVerry Trust.

We’ve been working on empty and derelict buildings for a few years now, and we know from this experience that we can create high quality homes much faster and cheaper than traditional new build construction.

“The Reusing Dublin project is something that we hope will encourage members of the public to share their knowledge of their community and city by logging empty buildings. The more empty buildings we can identify and reuse, the more homes we can provide to people impacted by homelessness in Dublin,” he added.

Ghost estates 

Meanwhile, the Housing Department has today published its sixth annual progress report and seventh housing survey on tackling the issue of unfinished housing developments.

Among the key findings of this year’s survey are:

  • 91% decrease in the number of unfinished developments (ghost estates) over the last seven years (of the 421 developments surveyed)
  • 165 developments resolved in 2017
  • 256 unfinished developments remaining
  • 74% of local authority areas now contain fewer than 10 unfinished developments
  • Four local authority areas have no occupied unfinished developments

Speaking about the figures, junior minister Damien English said his objective is to resolve all remaining unfinished housing developments, especially those within high market demand locations.

In a statement, the department said local authorities and on-the-ground teams have “excellent local knowledge and have signalled that a number of sites with ‘unfinished’ elements are now coming back in for new planning permission”.

“In a number of cases this was at pre-planning stage and throughout 2018 should move on to the determination of planning applications clearing the way for development subject to developer capacity, funding and demand.”

With reporting by Órla Ryan 

Reusing Dublin can be used via the on the Space Engagers app, available for free download on both iOS and Android. The Reusing Dublin website, meanwhile, can be found here

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