Vacant Site Levy becoming a reality

10 October 2018

The vacant site levy was introduced by the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015 (the “Act”). The levy is a site activation measure and was proposed to try and ensure that vacant land in urban areas is brought into beneficial use, having particular regard to the considerable need for more housing. In recent days, an Order has been made under section 11 of the Act with immediate effect. Section 11(1) of the Act requires that planning authorities issue a written notice by 1 June 2018 “or such later date in that year as the Minister may specify by Order” to owners of vacant sites entered on local authority vacant sites registers on 1 January 2018 of the intention to apply the levy on the listed sites with effect from January 2019. A flat 3% levy will apply on all registered vacant sites for 2018 (calculated on the market valuation of relevant sites), increasing to 7% for 2019 and subsequent years.

By the recent Order (S.I. No. 374 of 2018), the Minister has appointed 1 November 2018 as the later specified date by which planning authorities must issue a notice under section 11. The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government has notified all planning authorities of this Order and advised that they should take the necessary action and issue a section 11 notice, where this has not already been done, as soon as possible but before 1 November 2018.

The Department has noted that, from a recent online review, there are currently 280 sites on the vacant site registers across all local authorities (over one third of them in the Dublin City Council area). Only 11 planning authorities had listed sites on their registers as of 1 January 2018 and will therefore be able to apply the levy on relevant sites in January 2019. The levy will therefore not be applied in January 2019 in any of the other 20 planning authorities. Roughly half of all planning authorities have yet to register any vacant sites on their registers which suggests that the measure introduced by the Act over 3 years ago is not being utilised to the extent envisaged.

The recipients of a section 11 notice should be aware that while they may make submissions to the local authority in respect of the entry of a site on the register, such submissions must be made within 28 days of the date of the notice. The local authority, having considered those submissions, may decide to cancel the entry on the register if satisfied the site is no longer vacant. If the local authority decides not to cancel the entry, they must inform the property owner by written notice and an appeal may be made to An Bord Pleanála within 28 days of that notice.

The levy will become a financial reality for many property owners from January 2019, with numerous challenges regarding the application of the levy already before the Court and An Bord Pleanála. Where a vacant site levy becomes due and payable, it becomes a charge on the land concerned until it is paid. Therefore, in the absence of timely payment of the levy, this could have significant implications for property owners.

 

For further information or advice on Planning and Environmental matters, please contact:

Margaret Austin
Partner Construction, Planning & Environment
D: +353 1 202 6434
E: maustin@efc.ie

Finola Igoe
Associate Construction, Planning & Environment
D: +353 1 202 6523
E: figoe@efc.ie

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