A housing charity has appealed to business owners and office landlords who have premises lying idle due to the Covid-19 pandemic to consider converting their spaces into homes.

The Peter McVerry Trust said vacant commercial properties could play a part in solving the housing crisis.

The charity has just acquired a former medical centre on Parnell Square West in Dublin.

The space is over 2,000 square feet (185 square metres) in total and will soon be converted into three separate apartments.

The charity expects more similar projects to get underway as Covid 19 continues to bite.

CEO Pat Doyle said: "We're not in competition with business but there will be amalgamations and failures now (as a consequence of the pandemic) that will lead to an oversupply of office space.

"We're saying let's turn some of that office space into residential units and in particular one-beds."

Experts say there are around 25,000 empty commercial units across the country.

Architect Orla Hegarty, who is an assistant professor at UCD, said she believes the McVerry plan is worthwhile.

"It's very early days, but Dublin does have a lot of new build offices now and maybe in a few years we'll see them convert to housing. A lot of those structures are very adaptable."

But estate agents who specialise in the commercial sector said that in many cases new builds would be cheaper and that reports of the death of the office have been "greatly exaggerated".

Declan Stone, MD of Colliers International, said: "There is about six million square footage of office underdevelopment and as we speak 3.3 million of that or 57% is already pre-committed.

"I think it's important to realise, and a lot of global corporations have realised it, is that you can't replace the office culture with Zoom."

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences