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Tougher penalties mooted for vacant development sites in Ireland

Words: Roger Milne
Empty land / Shutterstock_222405685

The Social Democrat Party has published new legislation that would see owners of vacant sites who fail to develop them facing increased financial penalties.

The Urban Regeneration and Housing Bill 2017 will propose to add stronger sanctions to laws introduced by the Irish Government two years ago.

Under the government’s act of the same name, vacant sites in certain areas will be subject to a 3 per cent levy on its market value if the owner or developer fails to bring forward reasonable proposals for redevelopment or reuse without good reason.

The starting date for payment of the levy is January 2019.

Published by co-leader Catherine Murphy and Dublin councillor Gary Gannon, the Social Democrats Bill, proposes to strengthen the penalties considerably.

Under the provisions of the party’s Private Member’s Bill the rate of the levy would be increased by one percentage point for every full year that a site remains on the Vacant Sites Registers of the local authority. This means that if a site remains undeveloped after a year, the levy will increase from 3 per cent to 4 per cent. It will continue to increase for each year that the site is vacant.

The party has argued that current policies and laws need to be strengthened to free up vacant sites. It also wants more small sites to be included and less leeway for site owners who are heavily indebted to avoid paying the levy.

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