Two recent meetings with different groups got me thinking of the potential of the Town Centres First policy approach towards addressing our housing and homelessness challenges.
The first was with Kilkenny Voluntary Housing Association, formed through the Good Shepherd Centre. We discussed their work in renovating older houses in town centres to provide homes for people and families. Kilkenny County Council are working closely with the association in a strategic way and I'm encouraged by the fact that they are testing compulsory purchase powers to bring vacant houses back to life. It would be great to start addressing the vacancy in above shop premises too!
I also met this week with Dublin Civic Trust - an exemplar in how civic trusts should lead on conservation and regeneration. Both are connected. Indeed, bringing historic buildings and houses back to high conservation standards is not enough; such buildings must have a purpose and future too. We need to use every possible means to get families and people back in our old town centres, addressing as we do so: placemaking, biodiversity, mobility, air quality, night time economy.
There is great work being done by both Kilkenny Voluntary Housing Association and Dublin Civic Trust. Now, let's put it all together to make our town centres durable and vibrant and provide homes for many people and families.