The Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant is "rejuvenating" rural areas and bringing vacant housing stock back into use, Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien has said.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, he said that the Department has received "thousands of applications" to the scheme, with around 3,500 approved.

"It has been really popular. It is important in a number of ways - the first one is it's bringing vacant stock back into use and helping people actually array the cost of doing those homes up," said Minister O'Brien.

"In all 26 counties in the Republic, applications are growing and I have ensured I want to double the output this year and we are very ambitious in this."

The importance of the grant for rural housing

He said the grant speaks to regeneration of the country's towns and villages in particular.

"It's not just town and village centre only, we have expanded it to rural one-off homes. We are seeing a lot of older homes that haven’t been in use for 50, 60, 70 years being brought back in, it’s rejuvenating our rural areas and helping people get that home that they want.

“I would encourage anyone, who is a home buyer, they don’t have to be a first-time buyer or someone who is right sizing to contact their local authority. The grant application process is very simple it’s a four-page process that’s working really well.

"I encourage young people and not so young people [to apply] - this is a real way of getting the home you want in the area you live. It has been really positive and I hope to see it increase even further this year.”

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