Stephen Dodd BL shall deliver his paper on the pending changes to the regulation of derelict sites on Wednesday 11th March 2015 in the Sheds at 8:30 AM

As reported in the Irish Times online on March 4th 2015 (see http://www.irishtimes.com/)

“Derelict properties worth a combined total of €15 million have been identified at 46 locations in Dublin city.

The council is investigating 630 sites in the city which could warrant inclusion on the Derelict Sites Register set up under legislation in 1990 to stop property owners from neglecting their buildings and sites.

Of those, only 46 sites have so far been put on the register, which allows the council to take action against property owners including the imposition of an annual levy of 3 per cent of the market value of the site, and compulsory purchase of the site.

Sites remain on the register “for quite some time despite the imposition of a levy and interest”, the council said. “This situation is exacerbated in the current climate where owners lack the necessary finances, are bankrupt or companies are in liquidation.”

The number of “stakeholders” who find themselves potentially affected by the application of the 1990 Derelict Sites Act has expanded beyond developers and property owners to financial institutions, Nama, receivers and liquidators, the council said.

“This is a complicating factor because ascertaining the ownership of these sites and structures is far from straightforward.”

Derelict sites

Chairman of the council’s planning committee, Labour councillor Andrew Montague, asked would the council consider using the compulsory purchase process for the 46 sites. “In the greater scheme of things €15 million to buy these derelict sites is quite a small amount of money,” he said.

Assistant council chief executive Jim Keogan said compulsory purchase was a protracted and costly process. It is a “very draconian measure, so it’s only used as a last resort”.

Separately, the council has completed an 18-month audit to determine what land should be subject to the new vacant sites levy which will be introduced under the Planning Bill. The Bill is due to be enacted in the coming months.

Commercial buildings

While the owners of derelict buildings are subject to the derelict sites levy, there has to date been no sanction on the owners of vacant land.

The audit has identified more than 61 hectares of vacant or underused land, spread over 282 sites in the city centre that could be developed for homes or commercial buildings. Fully vacant land accounted for most of the sites – 151 sites or 33 hectares, which comprises 54 per cent of all vacant sites in the city.

There were 91 vacant sites with structures on part of them, occupying 27 hectares or 44 per cent of vacant land. Dilapidated buildings accounted for just 40 sites identified and occupy only 1.7 hectares or 3 per cent of vacant land.

These lands, if already subject to the derelict sites levy would be unlikely to be subject to the new vacant sites levy.

The council and the State, as well as semi-State companies, will be exempt from the vacant sites levy.

About eight hectares of vacant land, largely in flat complexes which were to have been regenerated through schemes that failed when the property market collapsed, are owned by the council.”

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