Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning, Peter Burke TD.

Burke announces ‘Ready to Build’ scheme

The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD and the Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning, Peter Burke TD, have announced the ‘Ready to Build’ Scheme.

The scheme, which will be funded under the Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund, will see Westmeath County Council make available serviced sites in towns and villages at discounted rates for individual purchasers who wish to build their own home in Westmeath.

Under the scheme, Westmeath County Council and other local authorities will make serviced sites - sites with the necessary infrastructure such as electricity, water and wastewater, available in towns and villages to potential purchasers for the building by the purchaser of a principal private residence. The sites will be sold at a discounted rate of up to €30,000 from the market value. The discount will be determined by the cost of servicing the site.

Many areas in towns and villages of all sizes face the blight of vacant and undeveloped sites, which, if brought back into use, could add real vibrancy to those communities. The scheme fulfils a commitment in the Government’s Housing for All plan, and supports the Our Rural Future policy and the recently published Town Centre First policy, which aims to tackle vacancy, combat dereliction and breathe new life into our town centres.

Minister Peter Burke said there is "a great appetite" out there for people to build their own homes in our many towns and villages.

"This scheme will provide many people in Westmeath with a real opportunity to do so. This initiative is among the suite of measures in Housing for All to make housing more affordable for people in Westmeath and to strengthen and diversify Westmeath’s rural towns and villages so that they are a hub for local housing and employment growth.

"This new initiative will work hand-in-hand with the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant, also funded by the Croí Conaithe (Towns) Fund, which aims to tackle vacancy and dereliction in our towns and villages by giving prospective homeowners a grant of up to €30,000 (€50,000 if derelict) for the refurbishment of a vacant property for occupation as a principal private residence.

“This new Scheme will bring added vibrancy to Westmeath’s towns and villages where housing is needed," Minister Burke added. "Not only does this policy support greater housing but, in line with the Government’s Town Centre First policy, it will make towns and villages more viable and attractive places in which to live, work, visit and run a business.”

All available sites will be advertised on Westmeath County Council’s website and on relevant local publications.

The application form, eligibility criteria and associated FAQs will provide additional information to people who would like to avail of the scheme. Further information will be available from the Vacant Homes Officer in Westmeath County Council.

What conditions are part of the Serviced Sites for New Homes Scheme?

Applicant(s) must meet the eligibility criteria set out in the application;

Applicant may only purchase one site under this scheme;

The site must be used to build a home, which will be the applicant’s principal private

residence, when completed;

If an applicant is not a first-time buyer or ‘Fresh Starter’, applicants must plan to move from their current home that they are selling or have sold and want to live in a town or village setting

Applicant must have their tax affairs in order and have tax clearance from Revenue

Applicant must apply for planning permission to build their principal private residence on the site within 3 months of receiving approval to purchase and payment of deposit. Where this does not happen the site will revert to the local authority. Transfer of ownership (and payment of balance of purchase) shall only take place on confirmation of receipt of planning permission.

Building must start within 12 months of receipt of planning permission. Where this does not occur, the full monetary value of the discount must be repaid to the local authority.

Applicants must agree to the clawback conditions set out in the application, where the purchaser sells the property /site or it ceases to be their principal private residence within a ten year period.

Example of Serviced Site Fund in use

A local authority purchases or owns a site with a market value of €30,000. It gets the site serviced for €30,000. The market value of the site is €60,000. The local authority makes the site available for sale at €30,000, the discount being equivalent to the cost of servicing the site.

If the purchaser of the site does not comply with the scheme’s planning permission and home building requirements it must repay the €30,000 to the local authority. If the purchaser sells the home within 10 years, it must pay the local authority a clawback amount.

Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant

Information on the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant scheme, funded through Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund is available here.