The Government has been urged to develop a national urban strategy “to radically address” the issues of vacancy and dereliction in the State’s cities and towns.
"If we can successfully address these structural issues we will be able to transform our urban areas and create thriving town centres," Chambers Ireland, the umbrella body for Chambers of Commerce, said in a pre-budget submission.
It advocated a series measures around the reclaiming and refurbishment of vacant and derelict properties and the rezoning of brownfield sites.
It suggested the Government should set vacancy reduction targets for local authorities; introduce legislation to strengthen the powers of local authorities to compulsory purchase vacant sites; and increase and expand the existing vacant site levy.
It also called for the land registry to be modernised to facilitate the creation of a national vacant land registry.
Local authorities should also be better resourced to initiate street improvement and active travel investments as part of a post-Covid recovery plan.
Integral to the success of a national urban strategy would also be delivery of commitments on climate action.
Speaking on Monday morning, Chambers Ireland chief executive Ian Talbot said: "Our member chambers put 'place' at the heart of how we engage with local economies and how we serve the interests of member businesses.
“The ambition for more sustainable towns and cities, with thriving urban centres, is therefore a central priority of our work.
"It is with this vision in mind that we want Budget 2022 to be place-orientated, putting sustainable local economies at the heart of Government policy," Mr Talbot said.
“As a priority we must ensure that Budget 2022 supports urban recovery and tackles vacancy, both residential and commercial. This approach will be imperative to ensure that sustainable cities and communities can thrive and local economies can prosper,” he said.