Tuesday, 28 June 2016
Department of Environment, Community and Local Government
Vacant Sites Levy
230. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government with respect to the new vacant site levy that will take effect in 2018, if only owners of properties that have been vacant a year from January 2018 will be liable to pay the tax or if owners of properties that have been vacant a year prior to January 2018 will also be liable to pay the levy in 2018. [18549/16]
231. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government if, in view of the Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Homelessness report, he will agree to amend the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015 to ensure the levy will also apply to public bodies such as the Office of Public Works and local authorities. [18550/16]
232. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government if the rate of the vacant site levy is high enough to act as a disincentive to land hoarding in view of evidence given to the Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Homelessness. [18551/16]
233. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government with respect to the new vacant site levy, how the market valuation of the land will be determined and by what body; if local authorities or another body will undertake any global site valuations at regular intervals; and if there will be any link with site valuation for commercial rates purposes. [18552/16]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 230 to 233, inclusive, together.
The Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015, enacted in July 2015, introduced a new measure, the vacant site levy, which is aimed at incentivising the development of vacant, under - utilised sites in urban areas.
Under the Act, planning authorities are required to establish a register of vacant sites in their areas, beginning on 1 January 2017 and to issue annual notices to owners of vacant sites by 1 June 2018 in respect of vacant sites on the register on 1 January 2018. The levy shall be applied by planning authorities, commencing on 1 January 2019 in respect of sites which were vacant and on the vacant site register during the year 2018 and shall subsequently be applied on an annual basis thereafter, as long as a site remains on the vacant site register in the preceding year.
Planning authorities are empowered to apply an annual vacant site levy of 3% of the market value of vacant sites exceeding 0.05 hectares in area - with reduced or zero rates of levy applying in specific circumstances - which, in the planning authority's opinion, were vacant or idle in the preceding year, in areas identified by the planning authority in its development plan or local area plan for residential or regeneration development. The 3% rate of vacant site levy is consistent with the rate applied to derelict sites under the Derelict Sites Act 1991 and is considered reasonable, without being over-punitive, for the purposes of incentivising the activation of such sites for residential or regeneration purposes. In this regard, it is also worth noting that all levies due on an individual site shall remain a charge on the land concerned until all outstanding levies due are paid so there will be a cumulative effect associated with not activating a site for development purposes for each year a site remains vacant or idle.
The Act further provides that residential or regeneration land, regardless of ownership, either public or private, will be subject to the levy if it meets the criteria for a vacant site.
In addition, the Act provides that planning authorities shall determine - utilising a suitably qualified person for this purpose - the market value of a vacant site placed on the register on the basis of the price it would fetch if sold on the open market, with the market valuation being required to be reviewed at least every 3 years. The owner of a vacant site may appeal the market value determination arrived at by a planning authority to the Valuation Tribunal.
My Department intends to issue guidelines to planning authorities in relation to the practical implementation of the vacant site levy provisions shortly.