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Ires Reit appeal gets €155,000 vacant site levy overturned

Private landlord says fines were imposed after work had commenced

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Asbestos: Ires said hazardous material had to be removed from the site. Stock photo

Asbestos: Ires said hazardous material had to be removed from the site. Stock photo

Asbestos: Ires said hazardous material had to be removed from the site. Stock photo

The country’s biggest private landlord, Ires Reit, has successfully appealed a demand from Dublin City Council for a €155,000 payment under vacant sites legislation.

And the listed property giant has criticised the council for registering the site at the centre of the dispute as being vacant in the first place.

Dublin City Council entered the site on the city’s North Circular Road onto the vacant sites register in 2017. That was appealed by Ires Reit the same year, but the appeal was rejected.

The vacant sites register was established to encourage property owners to develop such sites and to discourage land hoarding.

Sites entered on the register attract a levy equivalent to 7pc of the value of the site. The rate was raised from 3pc in January 2020.

In May 2018, Dublin City Council valued the former motor showroom site on North Circular Road at just over €2.2m.

Ires Reit was hit with a €66,000 demand for the payment of a levy in relation to the site in February 2019 in respect of 2018. The second notice, for a levy of €155,000 in respect of 2019, was received in February last year.

The property investment group told An Bord Pleanála in its appeals against the levies, that it applied for planning permission for the site in 2017, which was granted in 2018.

That planning permission is for a mixed-use development, including three retail units and 61 apartments.

Ires Reit said work commenced in 2018, but asbestos at the location required specialised removal.

That wasn’t fully done until the third quarter of 2019, it said. Further ground studies at the site detected hazardous contaminates. Final removal of those elements was undertaken in 2019 and construction began in February 2020.

The investment firm said that given the existence of so many contaminants at the location, the site should not have been considered vacant in the first place.

It said that the site at the time was not suitable for housing due to the presence of those contaminants, rendering it unfit for human habitation.

During 2018 and 2019, significant construction-related activity was taking place, according to Ires Reit.

An Bord Pleanála found that in respect of 2019, the appeal by Ires Reit is valid and that the site was not vacant. It cancelled the €155,000 levy.

However, it said that Ires had not submitted its appeal in relation to the levy demand in respect of 2018 in time.

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