A new vacant site levy on vacant urban sites, not coming forward for development, was established under the Urban Regeneration & Housing Act 2015. This levy is a site activation measure, to ensure that vacant or underutilised land in urban areas is brought into beneficial use. At the passing of this Act, the Minister stated that this is a "visible demonstration of the Government's commitment to tackle reasons why so many key sites that are suitable for development are not coming forward at a time of such a major need for housing".
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 has not been in use (i.e. vacant) for an extended period of time
- 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.
What happens next?
On January 1st 2017, Kilkenny County Council established a Vacant Sites Register. An identified vacant site can be entered on the register when the Council is of the opinion that it has been vacant for a minimum of 12 months preceding its entry on the register.
At present the Register does not contain any entries, as the Council is in the process of satisfying itself that the sites identified by it to date have been vacant for the preceding 12 months. The Council is presently engaging in a detailed assessment of all potential vacant sites in the County. This assessment will involve correspondence with the relevant landowners at various stages throughout the review process.
The Vacant Sites Register is available here.
What information will 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) of the site which was, in the opinion of the planning authority, a vacant site for the duration of the 12 months preceding the date of entry;
- 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 will the levy be?
If a site is found to be vacant under the terms of the scheme and is entered on the register it will then be subject to the vacant site levy, payable to Kilkenny County Council. The levy is payable in arrears each year beginning in 2019. For 2018, the levy is 3% of the site's market value. (Under Budget 2018, this levy is now proposed to be increased to 7% for 2019). The levy is payable on a demand by the planning authority within 2 months, though arrangements may be made or facilitated by the planning authority for the payment of the levy by the owner of the site by instalments. If not paid, the levy shall be recoverable as a simple contract debt through the Courts. Any levy due will remain to be a charge on the land until paid. Section 16 of the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act sets out that the amount of the levy varies depending on the relationship between the amount of the site loan and the market value (e.g. if the outstanding amount of the loan is greater than the market value of the vacant site, the levy in respect of that site is 0%).
The Council will be carrying out a detailed assessment and including sites on the Register during 2017 and 2018. The application of the vacant site levy will become payable in 2019 following this process. Relevant landowners will be notified at all relevant stages.
How is a site entered on the Register?
For a site to be entered on the register, details of ownership, title to the site and the market value pertaining to the site must also be obtained. The detailed assessment of potential vacant sites will involve correspondence with the relevant landowners at various stages.
Before entering a site on the Vacant Sites Register, the authority must notify the property owner of its intent. When notified, a property owner has the right to object and can make a submission to the planning authority within 28 days. 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 decision to An Bord Pleanála (ABP). Entry on the register shall not take effect until the appeal is determined by ABP.
Before 1 June 2018, the authority must notify owners of vacant sites on the register on 1 January 2018 that the levy shall be charged for 2018 in January 2019. Property owners may make submissions in respect of the entry on the register to the authority within 28 days. If, having considered the submission the authority is still of the view that the property should remain on the register, it must notify the property owner of same and the owner may within 28 days of the date of the notice appeal to ABP. If ABP upholds the appeal the entry shall be cancelled on the register.
The authority must determine the market value of a vacant site as soon as after it is entered on the Vacant Sites Register and notify owner of same. The owner can appeal the valuation to the Valuation Tribunal within 28 days of the notice. Subject to the right of appeal on a point of law, the decision of the 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.
Where can I find out more?
You can contact the Planning Department on (056) 7794010 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
This website will be updated as the process progresses.
Urban Regeneration & Housing Act 2015
Small Business Vacant Premises Scheme
Repair and Leasing Scheme for Vacant Houses