Friday 28 April 2017

Councils criticised as 'blank' site lists published

Dublin City Green Party Councillor Ciarán Cuffe
Dublin City Green Party Councillor Ciarán Cuffe
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Dublin City Council and other local authorities have been accused of sticking to the letter but not the spirit of a new law aimed at boosting the supply of new houses.

Yesterday, Dublin City Council published a Vacant Sites Register but with all of the entries left blank. The other Dublin local authorities also said they had established Vacant Sites Registers, but again indicated that no properties had so far been added to the official lists.

Under legislation introduced in 2015, all local authorities had until January 1 to create registers listing vacant and unused properties that could be used for housing.

The Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015 says sites deemed vacant and added to a register for over 12 months by the start of 2019 will be hit with a 3pc 'use it or lose it' tax per year, based on the value of the property.

The measure is aimed at forcing owners to develop or sell property that has been allowed to sit idle, and is part of the legislative effort to boost the supply of new homes.

However, the Irish Independent found all of Dublin's four local authorities - where the housing crisis is worst - claimed to have met the January 1 deadline, without adding any properties to their lists.

Green Party Councillor for Dublin City Ciarán Cuffe said his local authority appeared to have "complied with the letter but not the spirit of the Act".

It was important to complete the register as quickly as possible to encourage landlords to bring sites into use before the charges kick in, he said.

"The sooner we have addresses on the register, the sooner property owners will feel the pinch," he said.

The former planning and heritage junior minister said he would write today to Owen Keegan, Dublin City Council's chief executive, to put pressure on to speed up completion of the register.

Dublin City Council said the process of notifying owners of 385 properties that they would be included on the Vacant Sites Register would commence in the first quarter of 2017.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council said it had established a Vacant Sites Register, but again indicated it may be some time before it was filled in.

Fingal County Council and Dublin South County Council each said it was too soon to publish details of vacant sites.

Cork City Council, responsible for the largest urban area outside Dublin, already keeps a Derelict Sites Register.

Irish Independent

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