Created by Simon Matthews on behalf of SLIGO HOUSING ACTION GROUP
Empty buildings & land survey 2023-2024
This is a survey of empty property and land in Sligo town. It was carried out by the Sligo Housing Action Group between November 2023 and January 2024, and shows:
• 112 x empty houses
• 57 x empty commercial with residential above
• 72 x empty apartments
• 32 x sites with development potential
• 16 x commercial buildings of all types
• 14 x plots with development potential
The information contained was collected by walking every street in Sligo from the centre to the outskirts and observing land and properties that were clearly empty, or appeared from an external viewing, to be empty. A photograph was taken of each of these and the location plotted on a map. Some were then investigated further, either by consulting the local news reports on the internet, including planning records in some instances, or by interrogating historical data.
Properties that had an agents board displayed, or where work was underway at the time of the visit (or could be considered to have been so within a few days of the visit) were not included.
Also excluded were empty apartments within blocks. Only blocks that were appeared entirely empty were included. Air b and b properties were excluded too, and in any event, from an external viewing were usually in good condition and looked occupied, even if empty.
Some caution is needed when considering this survey, and the following points are made:
(1) Some of the land and property shown here is known to be subject to development/refurbishment proposals. However, these appear to be moving at an extremely slow pace, if at all.
(2) It is known that some of the individual houses have been sold via agents in the recent past. Despite that, they remain empty. In many cases they have been empty for more than two years.
(3) It is possible that some of the individual properties shown here are occupied, despite their condition. If so, they should be removed from this list, albeit the owners might be asked to improve their appearance. Counter balancing this, though, our observations indicate that Sligo also contains various other properties that appear empty, but are in fair condition. These are either holiday homes (IE not primary residences) or, possibly, owned by elderly persons who are now living elsewhere with friends, family or in care and whose former homes have been “moth-balled.” These were not included in the survey as ascertaining their status was not possible.
(4) The assumptions made about developing the sites and plots of land are based on best practice and experience elsewhere, but would be subject to planning and appropriate surveys. The comments made, therefore, are only indicative.
In summary we would observe that housing and mixed-use development in Sligo appears at present to be almost entirely private sector led. The result of that preference are the images shown here.
If these properties were refurbished and brought into use, and the sites shown redeveloped, they would go a long way toward solving the housing needs of local people, across all tenures.
We hope this survey informs the current debate about housing in Ireland, and helps those participating in that debate to recognize the scale of the problem at hand and possible solutions.
Simon Matthews spent 30 years as a housing manager and consultant working on the identification and purchase of land and property. His employers during this period included local authorities, housing associations and private companies and individuals.
Click below to check out our survey.