Vacant pubs account for one-third of commercial conversions in Donegal

written by Rachel McLaughlin February 27, 2023

One-third of planned commercial conversions in Donegal last year were former pubs being turned into homes.

The vacant pubs are being converted as part of a planning permission exemption to promote the re-use of vacant commercial buildings for much-needed housing supply.


In Donegal, eleven commercial premises were notified to Donegal County Council for developments of this type. Of these, the owners of three former pubs notified the local authority of their intention to use the planning permission exemption to create five residential units.

A total of 41 homes in Donegal have been created under the scheme since 2018.

The regulations, a part of the Government’s ‘Housing for All’ plan and ‘Town Centre First’ policy, are in place to the end of 2025. Last year, the regulations were extended to include pubs to increase housing supply through this vehicle.

On the one-year anniversary of signing the new regulations, Minister O’Brien published figures that showed that one-fifth of notifications received by local authorities nationally in the last year to convert certain vacant commercial premises into homes related to former pubs: “These figures show that Government regulations to allow former, vacant pubs be converted into homes without needing planning permission is helping to tackle the problem of vacancy. In just ten months, the owners of 53 former pubs have notified local authorities of their intention to use this exemption. In recent years towns and villages have regrettably seen pubs close their doors for the last time but these exemptions are helping to provide housing, including ‘over the shop’ living in once-vacant spaces. These conversions are also helping to revitalise our town centres, something the Government is committed to achieving through our ‘Town Centre First’ policy.’

The department is today launching the second phase of its national ad campaign to raise awareness of the Government’s vacant property supports. The campaign’s second phase highlights these planning permission exemptions and the Repair and Leasing Scheme.


Commenting on the campaign, the Minister of State for Planning and Local Government, Kieran O’Donnell TD, said: “Right across the country the public are responding to the supports available for turning vacant property into homes. Over the next two weeks, we’re going to highlight both the planning permission exemptions for converting vacant commercial property into a home and the Repair and Leasing Scheme. The Repair and Leasing Scheme offers vacant property owners the opportunity to restore a property with the help of a local authority loan in return for guaranteed rent for a defined period of time by renting the property out for social housing. We urge anyone interested in buying, selling or leasing a vacant property that could be a home to visit or contact their local authority’s Vacant Homes Officer.”