Under the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015, each local authority will have to compile a register of lands in its area that are suitable for housing but are not coming forward for development. On January 1st 2017, these registers were established and a vacant site levy will be charged from January 2019 onwards.
The Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018 contains certain provisions which have amended certain provisions the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act (e.g. increase in the vacant site levy from 3% to 7%).
What is a Vacant Site?
The Urban Regeneration and Housing Act defines a vacant site as any land (exceeding 0.05 hectares) where:
- In the case of residential land, there is a need for housing in the area, the site is suitable for housing and the majority of the site is vacant or idle, or is not being used primarily for the provision of housing (subject to the most recent purchase of the site occurring after it became residential land)
- In the case of regeneration land, the majority of the site has not been in use (i.e. vacant) for an extended period of time and where the fact that the site being vacant is having a negative impact on existing amenities or on the character of the area.
An identified vacant site can be entered onto the Register when the local authority is of the opinion that it has been vacant for a minimum of 12 months preceding its entry on the Register.
What is Residential Land?
This is land where the zoning objective on the land is mainly for residential use.
In the South Dublin County Council Development Plan 2016-2022, this is lands zoned Objective RES and RES-N.
What is Regeneration Land?
This is land within areas where the Planning Authority has an objective to develop and renew areas in need of regeneration.
In the South Dublin County Council Development Plan 2016-2022, this refers to lands zoned Objective REGEN (regeneration), TC (town centre), DC (District Centre), VC (village centre) and LC (local centre).
What happens next?
South Dublin’s Vacant Sites Register was established on 1st January 2017 and has been populated with a number of sites which have been identified as vacant, fully assessed and gone through the various statutory stages for entry onto the Register.
This is an ongoing process and South Dublin County Council continues to carry out detailed assessment of potential vacant sites in the County for inclusion on the Vacant Sites Register. This assessment involves correspondence with the relevant landowners at various stages throughout the review process.
What information can be found on the Vacant Sites Register?
As set out in Section 8 of the Urban and Regeneration Housing Act 2015, each vacant site placed on the Register will include the following information:
- A description (including a map)
- Where the site comprises registered land, the folio details;
- The name and address of the owner;
- Particulars of the market value of the site; and
- Such other information referred to in the Act that the Minister may prescribe.
Additional information in relation to dates and location will also be provided for ease of reference.
How much is the Levy?
A site entered on the Register is subject to the vacant site levy, payable in arrears each year beginning in 2019. In respect of 2018, the levy will be 3% of the site's market value which will be payable in 2019. The levy will increase to 7% in respect of the year 2019, payable in 2020, and every subsequent year thereafter.
The levy is payable on demand within 2 months, though arrangements may be made for the payment of the levy by the owner of the site by instalments.
How can a site be removed from the Register?
At any point, the owner of a vacant site can notify the Council if the site is no longer vacant or idle. If the Council is satisfied that the site is no longer a vacant site, it shall cancel the entry on the Register.
What are the stages involved?
When notified by the planning authority of its intention to include a site on the Vacant Sites Register, a property owner has the right to object and can make a submission to the planning authority within 28 days. It is advisable to submit all relevant documentary evidence at this stage to enable the Planning Authority to make a determination. If, having considered the submission, the Authority is still of the view that it should be entered on the Register, it must notify the property owner of same and the owner may, within 28, days appeal the entry to An Bord Pleanala (ABP).
The planning authority is obliged to determine the market value of a vacant site as soon as may be after the site is entered on the Register, and at least once every 3 years thereafter, and notify the owner accordingly. The owner may appeal this valuation to the Valuation Tribunal within 28 days of this notice. Subject to the right of appeal on a point of law to the High Court, the decision of the Valuation Tribunal is final.
An owner of a vacant site who receives a demand for payment of the levy may appeal against same to ABP within 28 days of the date of the demand on grounds that the site is no longer vacant or that the calculation of the levy is incorrect. If ABP upholds the appeal, then either the entry shall be removed from the Register and the demand cancelled or it will advise the authority of the correct amount of the levy and an amended demand shall issue.
A fee of €500 will apply to appeals under Section 9, 11 or 18 of the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act, 2015 received by An Bord Pleanála on or after 1st April 2019.
Where can I find out what Vacant Sites there are in South Dublin County?
The Vacant Sites Register is available for inspection at the County Hall Planning Counter during normal opening hours. A spread sheet of the sites is included below.
For ease of reference, an on-line map viewer is currently being developed and will be available in the near future.