Written answers

Thursday, 17 November 2022

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Derelict Sites

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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187. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government his views on matters raised in correspondence (details supplied). [57119/22]

Photo of Peter BurkePeter Burke (Longford-Westmeath, Fine Gael)
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Local Authorities are required to submit an annual return to my Department providing information on the operation of the Derelict Sites Act 1990 (the Act) in their functional areas. The derelict sites returns are collected in Q2 of the following year. The information requested in respect of 2021 is provided in the Table below. Figures for 2022 are not yet available.

My Department continues to liaise with local authorities, including Cork County Council, on the implementation of the Act with a view to improving its effectiveness. In this regard, my Department initiated a review of the Act in November 2021 and has sought initial submissions from local authorities on potential improvements to the legislative provisions and the way they are applied. My Department has now established a focused working group to progress this matter further.

Under the Act, local authorities are required to maintain a derelict sites register, which includes the name and address of each owner and occupier, where these can be ascertained by reasonable enquiry, of any land which, in the opinion of the local authority, is a derelict site. Section 8(5) of the Act, provides that "The register shall be kept at the offices of the local authority and shall be available for inspection at the offices of the local authority during office hours." There is no legislative requirement for local authorities to publish their Derelict Sites Registers on their website.

A property can be placed on the derelict site register where it is deemed by a local authority to satisfy the criteria of a derelict site under the terms of section 3 of the Act i.e. (i) it is in a dangerous or ruinous condition; (ii) it is in a neglected or unsightly condition; or (iii) there is a presence of litter, waste or debris on the site. It is not the case that a property can be placed on the derelict site register of a local authority simply by being a vacant property.

It is also worth noting that placing sites on the derelict sites register, and collecting levies in respect of those sites, is not the sole mechanism that local authorities apply in relation to bringing sites back into use. They often engage collaboratively with property owners with a view to necessary works being undertaken to bring sites back into use while also occasionally using their powers under the Act to compulsorily acquire derelict sites. This latter approach is something that my Department has recently been engaging on with local authorities with a view to the relevant powers being utilised more. My Department has also requested local authorities to be more proactive in collecting levies, including utilising debt recovery procedures as appropriate.

Pathway 4 of Housing for All sets out a blueprint to address vacancy and make efficient use of our existing housing stock. Many areas of cities, towns and villages of all sizes face the blight of vacant properties, which, if brought back into use, could add real vibrancy and provide new accommodation in those areas. The Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund is a key initiative which underpins these policy objectives set out in Pathway Four of Housing for All.

Schemes under the Fund, which are delivered by local authorities, provide new choices for people to live in towns and villages in Ireland, through the provision of a grant to support the refurbishment of vacant properties and by providing serviced sites in towns and villages to people in order to build their own homes.

In July, the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant as part of the Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund was launched. The Grant benefits those who wish to turn a formerly vacant house or building into their principal private residence. The grant was initially launched in respect of vacant properties in towns and villages but as of the 15 November, the grant has been expanded to include eligible vacant properties in both cities and rural areas (in addition to those in towns and villages, which have been eligible since July).

A grant of up to a maximum of €30,000 is available for the refurbishment of vacant properties for occupation as a principal private residence, including the conversion of a property which has not previously been used as residential. Where the refurbishment costs are expected to exceed the standard grant of up to €30,000, a maximum top-up grant amount of up to €20,000 is available where the property is confirmed to be derelict, bringing the total grant available for a derelict property up to a maximum of €50,000.

In September, the Ready to Build Scheme, also funded by the Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund was launched. Under the Ready to Build Scheme, local authorities will make serviced sites in towns and villages available to potential individual purchasers to build their homes. These sites will be available at a discount on the market value of the site for the building of a property for occupation as the principal private residence of the purchaser.

Local Authority Amount received in respect of sites levied during 2021
Carlow €5,000.00
Cavan € -
Clare € -
Cork County € -
Cork City € 570,000.00
Donegal € -
Dublin City €417,447.00
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown €7,500.00
Fingal € -
Galway City € -
Galway County € -
Kerry € -
Kildare €3,300.00
Kilkenny € -
Laois € -
Leitrim € -
Limerick City & County €41,138.00
Longford € -
Louth € -
Mayo €10,383.00
Meath € -
Monaghan € -
Offaly € -
Roscommon € -
Sligo € -
South Dublin € -
Tipperary € -
Waterford City & County € -
Westmeath €32,250.00
Wexford € -
Wicklow € -
Total €1,097,018.00


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