Government defends legislation on vacant site registers

Green Party calls for amendment after Dublin local authorities publish blank lists

A vacant site in Dublin. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

A vacant site in Dublin. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

Legislation which led a number of local authorities to publish blank lists of vacant sites in their areas is not flawed, said the Department of of Local Government.

The Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015 seeks to prevent land that could used for housing from lying idle and requires planning authorities to establish a register of vacant sites. It provides for a levy of 3 per cent of market value on such sites from 2019 if they are not developed.

Two of the councils which published blank registers – Dublin City Council and Fingal County Council – said they intended to populate the lists after notifying landowners that their sites are liable for the levy.

Legislation is flawed’

The Green Party said the empty registers showed the legislation needed to be changed with leader Eamon Ryan saying it is clearly not working.

“Minister [Simon] Coveney must now acknowledge that his Government’s legislation is flawed and amend it accordingly. If he doesn’t, we will address those issues in our upcoming Bill on vacant and derelict sites,” he said.

The department said it did not believe the legislation was flawed and that local authorities needed to write to landowners before putting sites on their register.

It said that before putting a site on the register “the planning authority must notify the site owner in writing of its proposed entry” and offer the owner 28 days to make a submission regarding its proposed inclusion.

Local authorities were ordered to have a vacant sites register in place by New Year’s Day. At least 385 properties have been identified for inclusion on Dublin City Council’s register once the council is satisfied they have been vacant for the last 12 months.

Property owners have 28 days from notification to object to their site being put on the register. If the council rejects their argument, the owner has another 28 days to appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanála.