In praise of Fianna Fail and Barry Cowen

GDPR

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First off, I am not a fan of Fianna Fail for reasons that many others share. Now that that that's out of the way, let us move on to the subject matter of Fianna Fail's Vacant Housing Refurbishment Bill 2017 introduced yesterday by Deputy Barry Cowen, for which I am indeed happy to give praise. I quote below from the relevant sections of his Dail speech in introducing the bill which was moved forward to second stage and I aim to keep track of this one:

"I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to establish a special planning and building control approval process in each planning authority, which will enable the expedited development of certain classes of residential developments including those requiring change of use from commercial or industrial to residential and residential refurbishment in upper floors and in older structures, and to provide for related matters.

Refurbishment of vacant residential and commercial units, especially in the case of older buildings, can be key. Despite its strategy to deal with the significant barriers for local authorities, approved housing bodies and the private sector in their efforts to refurbish vacant properties, however, the Department has sat on its hands as usual. We are still waiting for the Housing Agency to publish its vacant housing document.

As has been well documented in recent months, for example, in Census 2016, almost 260,000 homes - 15% of the housing stock - throughout the country are vacant. While that is shamefully wasteful, it might even be a significant underestimate of the actual figure. There are thousands of square feet of livable space in what are known as above-the-shop units, which anyone walking around our towns and cities can see. A vacant building study carried out recently by planners at UCC estimates that if this issue were provided for as it should be, we would increase residential populations in urban centres by more than 260%. Dublin City Council estimates that 4,000 vacant spaces above commercial units in this city alone have the potential to serve as residential dwellings.

Most vacant spaces that can be converted for residential use are in older buildings, which makes any conversion next to impossible to sign off on because the standards set out in the current building regulations are designed for new builds. The building control and regulation process must be changed if we are to make a dent in the levels of building vacancy and dereliction.

The Bill seeks to establish an expedited process for building control and planning administration in each local authority. This could increase the supply of dwellings in existing buildings where there are changes in use and-or limited building works in certain classes of development. It could also ensure compliance with safety standards in existing multi-occupancy residential buildings and regulate unauthorised developments.

We are seeking to reduce the costs associated with converting such buildings and accelerate the process in terms of planning permission, building certification and fire safety certification while keeping it in line with best international practice. We have spoken to and worked with builders, architects and all relevant stakeholders in order to draw on their experience and make a realistic effort to improve the current process, which does not allow the units in question to enter into use. This is a sustainable Bill that would facilitate the use of exiting units and accelerate the process to allow such units to enter into use in the short term, effecting the sort of change that is required if the situation is to be addressed.

It is disappointing that we still do not have the vacant housing initiative that was promised more than a year ago. If nothing else, I hope that this Bill will force the Government to move forward with much of what it contains. Such a development would receive the backing of many Deputies. In the absence of that, I ask that the Bill be allowed to move to the next Stage so that it can achieve the effect that, based on our consultations with relevant stakeholders, everyone wants to see."

Dáil Éireann - 27/Sep/2017 Questions on Promised Legislation (Continued)
 


Spanner Island

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Barry Cowen... FFS...

Whenever that gobsh!te opens his mouth I'm instantly brought back to his shambolic brother...

In the absence of anything serious from the Govt. however, the proposal is a good one... but please God keep Cowen to an absolute minimum on our national airwaves.
 
Last edited:

Sync

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That’s a really well worded, researched and structured question.
 

odlum

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Excellent. I concur OP. Help us get the message out. We have to pull together.

Votáil FF.
 

Socratus O' Pericles

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A fair question this. The Main Street in most towns is replete with vacant units at street and 1st floor levels.

Building Control is a bit of a joke though.
 

GDPR

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My husband is in awe of Fianna Fail. He really loves them. I wouldn't be their biggest fan however they are the best centrist Party in Europe and very often hatred of FF goes along with being a malcontented nihilist. Our Fianna Fail TD is an absolutely amazing person, someone of the highest quality.
 
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Watcher2

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First off, I am not a fan of Fianna Fail for reasons that many others share. Now that that that's out of the way, let us move on to the subject matter of Fianna Fail's Vacant Housing Refurbishment Bill 2017 introduced yesterday by Deputy Barry Cowen, for which I am indeed happy to give praise. I quote below from the relevant sections of his Dail speech in introducing the bill which was moved forward to second stage and I aim to keep track of this one:

"I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to establish a special planning and building control approval process in each planning authority, which will enable the expedited development of certain classes of residential developments including those requiring change of use from commercial or industrial to residential and residential refurbishment in upper floors and in older structures, and to provide for related matters.

Refurbishment of vacant residential and commercial units, especially in the case of older buildings, can be key. Despite its strategy to deal with the significant barriers for local authorities, approved housing bodies and the private sector in their efforts to refurbish vacant properties, however, the Department has sat on its hands as usual. We are still waiting for the Housing Agency to publish its vacant housing document.

As has been well documented in recent months, for example, in Census 2016, almost 260,000 homes - 15% of the housing stock - throughout the country are vacant. While that is shamefully wasteful, it might even be a significant underestimate of the actual figure. There are thousands of square feet of livable space in what are known as above-the-shop units, which anyone walking around our towns and cities can see. A vacant building study carried out recently by planners at UCC estimates that if this issue were provided for as it should be, we would increase residential populations in urban centres by more than 260%. Dublin City Council estimates that 4,000 vacant spaces above commercial units in this city alone have the potential to serve as residential dwellings.

Most vacant spaces that can be converted for residential use are in older buildings, which makes any conversion next to impossible to sign off on because the standards set out in the current building regulations are designed for new builds. The building control and regulation process must be changed if we are to make a dent in the levels of building vacancy and dereliction.

The Bill seeks to establish an expedited process for building control and planning administration in each local authority. This could increase the supply of dwellings in existing buildings where there are changes in use and-or limited building works in certain classes of development. It could also ensure compliance with safety standards in existing multi-occupancy residential buildings and regulate unauthorised developments.

We are seeking to reduce the costs associated with converting such buildings and accelerate the process in terms of planning permission, building certification and fire safety certification while keeping it in line with best international practice. We have spoken to and worked with builders, architects and all relevant stakeholders in order to draw on their experience and make a realistic effort to improve the current process, which does not allow the units in question to enter into use. This is a sustainable Bill that would facilitate the use of exiting units and accelerate the process to allow such units to enter into use in the short term, effecting the sort of change that is required if the situation is to be addressed.

It is disappointing that we still do not have the vacant housing initiative that was promised more than a year ago. If nothing else, I hope that this Bill will force the Government to move forward with much of what it contains. Such a development would receive the backing of many Deputies. In the absence of that, I ask that the Bill be allowed to move to the next Stage so that it can achieve the effect that, based on our consultations with relevant stakeholders, everyone wants to see."

Dáil Éireann - 27/Sep/2017 Questions on Promised Legislation (Continued)
Sorry Ted, I couldn't read it. Cowan is a politician and he made a speech. Well done him. Its what politicians do. Even worse, opposition TD's speeches are of even less value. While in opposition and only a few months before that GE, James Reilly TD made a speech about savings that could be made in the health service at the drop of a hat. Fast forward post election and he held that ministry. Not one of his suggested saviongs were implemented.

So forgive me please that I did not read Cowans (likely) mealy mouthed words.

PS: He's a fvcking Cowan as well.
 

Socratus O' Pericles

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Another attempt at thread derailment, This a considerable pain in the hole.
 

hammer

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Ask little BIFFO why did it take years for big BIFFO to close a stamp duty loophole during the deluded years that the Revenue estimated was costing the exchequer €250m per annum.
 

Socratus O' Pericles

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You're not going to be allowed to discuss the issue at hand Ted, which is a pity.
 

GDPR

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'No contest' grounds for divorce.
He supported the Liberal Democrats back in England which is far more embarrassing. His attitude to politics outside of his meat eating (he doesn't get any meat at home though) and addiction to cigars is the one thing bad about him. That said if his mam took political power it would most likely end in a blood bath so his caution is probably a reaction to that.
 

Watcher2

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Ask little BIFFO why did it take years for big BIFFO to close a stamp duty loophole during the deluded years that the Revenue estimated was costing the exchequer €250m per annum.
Seriously? For a minute I thought you had BIFFO and Noonan mixed up. But you don't, just have your FG self awareness gene switched off.

What was the section??? 110 or something like that?
 

Man or Mouse

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Sorry Ted, I couldn't read it. Cowan is a politician and he made a speech. Well done him. Its what politicians do. Even worse, opposition TD's speeches are of even less value. While in opposition and only a few months before that GE, James Reilly TD made a speech about savings that could be made in the health service at the drop of a hat. Fast forward post election and he held that ministry. Not one of his suggested saviongs were implemented.

So forgive me please that I did not read Cowans (likely) mealy mouthed words.

PS: He's a fvcking Cowan as well.
+1 on all of that.
 

Socratus O' Pericles

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Serving the topic up as a paeion to Barry Cowen and his political party was not a good way of getting a reasonable discussion going, though, in all fairness.
I suppose so, and any thread is fair game for a Bill fantasy.
 

Man or Mouse

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Ask little BIFFO why did it take years for big BIFFO to close a stamp duty loophole during the deluded years that the Revenue estimated was costing the exchequer €250m per annum.
The comparative size of the Biffos should be measured in decibels rather than cubic capacity. The current model is even louder than the former - Loud Biffo - and so should be known as Louder Biffo. If it came to pint consumption, the Loud fella would have miles to spare over the Louder Big Ignorant Fella From Offaly so probably better to keep the current model in pole position.
 

Volatire

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First off, I am not a fan of Fianna Fail for reasons that many others share. Now that that that's out of the way, let us move on to the subject matter of Fianna Fail's Vacant Housing Refurbishment Bill 2017 introduced yesterday by Deputy Barry Cowen, for which I am indeed happy to give praise. I quote below from the relevant sections of his Dail speech in introducing the bill which was moved forward to second stage and I aim to keep track of this one:

"I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to establish a special planning and building control approval process in each planning authority, which will enable the expedited development of certain classes of residential developments including those requiring change of use from commercial or industrial to residential and residential refurbishment in upper floors and in older structures, and to provide for related matters.

Refurbishment of vacant residential and commercial units, especially in the case of older buildings, can be key. Despite its strategy to deal with the significant barriers for local authorities, approved housing bodies and the private sector in their efforts to refurbish vacant properties, however, the Department has sat on its hands as usual. We are still waiting for the Housing Agency to publish its vacant housing document.

As has been well documented in recent months, for example, in Census 2016, almost 260,000 homes - 15% of the housing stock - throughout the country are vacant. While that is shamefully wasteful, it might even be a significant underestimate of the actual figure. There are thousands of square feet of livable space in what are known as above-the-shop units, which anyone walking around our towns and cities can see. A vacant building study carried out recently by planners at UCC estimates that if this issue were provided for as it should be, we would increase residential populations in urban centres by more than 260%. Dublin City Council estimates that 4,000 vacant spaces above commercial units in this city alone have the potential to serve as residential dwellings.

Most vacant spaces that can be converted for residential use are in older buildings, which makes any conversion next to impossible to sign off on because the standards set out in the current building regulations are designed for new builds. The building control and regulation process must be changed if we are to make a dent in the levels of building vacancy and dereliction.

The Bill seeks to establish an expedited process for building control and planning administration in each local authority. This could increase the supply of dwellings in existing buildings where there are changes in use and-or limited building works in certain classes of development. It could also ensure compliance with safety standards in existing multi-occupancy residential buildings and regulate unauthorised developments.

We are seeking to reduce the costs associated with converting such buildings and accelerate the process in terms of planning permission, building certification and fire safety certification while keeping it in line with best international practice. We have spoken to and worked with builders, architects and all relevant stakeholders in order to draw on their experience and make a realistic effort to improve the current process, which does not allow the units in question to enter into use. This is a sustainable Bill that would facilitate the use of exiting units and accelerate the process to allow such units to enter into use in the short term, effecting the sort of change that is required if the situation is to be addressed.

It is disappointing that we still do not have the vacant housing initiative that was promised more than a year ago. If nothing else, I hope that this Bill will force the Government to move forward with much of what it contains. Such a development would receive the backing of many Deputies. In the absence of that, I ask that the Bill be allowed to move to the next Stage so that it can achieve the effect that, based on our consultations with relevant stakeholders, everyone wants to see."

Dáil Éireann - 27/Sep/2017 Questions on Promised Legislation (Continued)
The problem is probably a lot more complex than Deputy Cowen admits. It is not going to solved by the stroke of a pen. The problem of Irish urban dilapidation, decay and under-use has been ongoing for centuries. It needs to be finally addressed, and the population pressure and strong sustainable growth in Dublin may finally give us an opportunity.

Why is there so much appalling urban decay in Dublin and other Irish cities? Here are some of the factors at work:

  • longstanding unresolved title issues
  • sitting tenant legal rights (prevents building being sold or developed)
  • an owner with mental health issues who inherited large family home
  • "bad area" snobbery and bigotry
  • crime and drug addition
  • slum landlords who live elsewhere
  • impression that listing makes development uneconomic
  • ignorant builders with poor understanding of older building techniques
  • failure of imagination architectural profession
  • redneck anti-urban prejudice
  • left-wing politicians who revel in squalor because it gets votes

Of course, one would not expect an ignorant redneck like Cowen to care about anything other than political posturing.
 

statsman

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My husband is in awe of Fianna Fail. He really loves them. I wouldn't be their biggest fan however they are the best centrist Party in Europe and very often hatred of FF goes along with being a malcontented nihilist. Our Fianna Fail TD is an absolutely amazing person, someone of the highest quality.
Nobody. Gives. A. Flying. One.
 


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