Cuffe calls for Coveney and Keegan to act on vacant sites

vsCllr. Ciarán Cuffe outside derelict homes on Dublin’s Benburb Street with Luas in background. Owners of sites this size won’t even have to pay the levy under the terms of the legislation.

The Green Party has written to Dublin City Council’s Chief Executive Owen Keegan, calling for more action on vacant sites in the city.

As a new law requiring planning authorities to establish a Vacant Sites Register comes into effect from 1st January 2017, many Council have published blank Registers. The Green Party has warned that this is counter-productive and will not achieve urban regeneration. While Dublin City Council and other Planning Authorities have published a register on 1st January, they contain no entries.

The Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015 was set up to tackle renewal and  prevent housing lands lying idle or remaining vacant. It requires Planning Authorities such as Dublin City Council to establish a register of vacant sites and provides for a 3% levy on such sites from 2019 if they are not developed.

The Green Party’s Cllr. Ciarán Cuffe said today:

“Publishing a register with no entries runs the risk of making us look ridiculous. The Vacant Sites Register published online by Dublin City Council yesterday contains no entries and sends out the wrong message that we appear not to take the issue of underused lands seriously.

“Today I wrote to Dublin City’s Chief Executive Owen Keegan requesting that he place sites on the Register  as soon as possible. We have known for over a year that this law came into effect on 1st January 2017, and we should have been better prepared. To most people it looks like we’re complying with the letter, but not the spirit of the law. Placing sites onto the Register at an early stage would concentrate the minds of owners into developing these lands and will send a clear signal that Dublin City Council is minded to tackle vacancy as soon as possible.

“The Act itself also needs to be amended to include smaller sites that won’t be included as they full under the threshold of 500 sq. m. in area. Such sites are large enough to include several vacant buildings or significant lands and could contribute to tackling the housing crisis. The Act should be amended downwards to include lands of 100 sq. m. Such sites are common in the city and significantly contribute to the poor appearance of many neighbourhoods.

“Finally the 3% annual levy may not be enough to encourage owner to develop or sell on their lands. The levy should kick in at 1% of the lands value so that owners will put up or shut up. While this may reduce land values in the short-term it will help to make housing more affordable in the long-term as currently the price of land can amount to half the cost of a new home.

“Minister Coveney must now acknowledge that his Government’s legislation is flawed and amend it accordingly.

“Vacancy and dereliction contribute significantly to the challenges faced by many parts of the city, and in particular my own ward in Dublin’s North Inner City. I strongly believe that we must take timely and effective action to tackle these issues in 2017.”

Correspondence to Owen Keegan follows:

Dear Mr. Keegan,

I note that the Vacant Sites Register published online by Dublin City Council yesterday contains no entries, and write to request that the placing of sites onto the Register be completed as soon as possible.

Placing sites onto the Register at an early stage would concentrate the minds of owners into developing these lands and would send a clear signal that Dublin City Council is minded to tackle vacancy as soon as possible.

I also note that lands less than 0.05 hectares in area will not be included in the register as they are under the minimum qualifying area. Such sites are common in the city and significantly contribute to the poor appearance of many neighbourhoods. In this instance I suggest that we use the Derelict Sites Act to put pressure on  owners to take action to develop such lands. I also believe that we should seek a lowering of the minimum area to 0.01 hectares (100 sq. m.) as even small vacant sites (10m by 10m) can contribute to providing housing and improving the city.

Vacancy and dereliction contribute significantly to the challenges faced by many parts of the city, and in particular my own ward in Dublin’s North Inner City. I strongly believe that we must take timely and effective action to tackle these issues in 2017.

Sincerely,

Councillor Ciarán Cuffe 087 265 2075
Green Party : Comhaontas Glas  North Inner City Ward

Page last updated 2nd January 2017

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