Green Party bill aims to tackle ‘fundamental flaws’ in Government approach to vacancy and dereliction
Green Party Senator Grace O'Sullivan today published legislation, which will be debated and voted on in the Seanad on Wednesday, aimed at tackling vacancy and dereliction in city and town centres.
The Derelict and Vacant Sites Bill 2017 aims to increase the levies on vacant sites from 3% per annum to 5%, to bring forward the date from which they apply from 2019 to mid-2017, and to include all sites under the legislation, as currently sites under 500m2 are exempt. This is a land area larger than a basketball court, and thus excludes a huge amount of sites.
Speaking ahead of the debate in the Seanad, Senator Grace O’Sullivan said:
“We are bringing this legislation to tackle what we see as fundamental flaws in the Government’s approach to vacancy and dereliction in our town and city centres. Throughout the country, in our villages, towns and cities, we are seeing countless examples of underutilisation of housing stock and inefficient use of land. In my own area here in Waterford city and county, where we have over 3,000 vacant homes, we don’t have to travel far to see large numbers of vacant and derelict sites.
“The aims of this Bill are simple, and have the potential to instigate meaningful change. The bill aims to remove the minimum site size from the current legislation, which is currently set at larger than a basketball court, thus eliminating a huge number of sites. This would bring far more vacant and derelict sites under the scope of the legislation. We are also proposing an increase in the tax rates on vacant and derelict sites from 3% to 5%.
“There is a real opportunity here. The country is full of empty buildings and vacant sites. We have almost 200,000 vacant dwellings in this country, as homelessness rates soar. These dwellings are pre-existing infrastructure and returning them back to a usable condition would go a long way not just towards providing more cost effective solutions to tackle the crisis, but would also be of benefit in terms of reinvigorating communities.”
Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan TD said: “The changes to our planning and housing systems are all focused on incentivising developers at a time when there are 28,000 un-commenced planning permissions for housing units in the Dublin area and almost a quarter of a million vacant homes across the country.
“Additionally, Dublin city has 60 hectares of vacant land, spread over more than 280 sites that could be used for housing. Under current legislation, many of these sites are not subject to levies. We want to change that.
“The government has provided a number of carrot incentives for developers to boost their profitability – we now need a bit of the stick to ensure that the ample land out there ready for development is not hoarded for easy profit.”
The full text of the Derelict and Vacant Sites Bill 2017 is available here.