New vacant sites levy to come into force in Kilkenny, with register established

Policy to 'promote redevelopment and renewal’ to address issues such as housing need, urban decay, and anti-social behaviour

Sam Matthews

Reporter:

Sam Matthews

Email:

sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

KILKENNY VACANT SITES LEVY

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The new levy on vacant urban sites will come into force in Kilkenny next year, payable in arrears beginning in 2019.

The levy will be applied to sites of more than .05ha identified by the council, which have not been coming forward for development.

At the October meeting of Kilkenny County Council, executive planner Caitriona O’ Sullivan told members the policy's goal is ‘to promote redevelopment and renewal’ in certain core areas to address issues such as housing need, urban decay, and anti-social behaviour.

The levy is payable in arrears each year beginning in 2019. For 2018, the levy is 3% of the site’s market value — however, under Budget 2018,it is now to be increased to 7% for 2019.

Variations have been made to the city and county development plans to implement the provisions of the levy on zoned lands.

As both the Ferrybank and the Castlecomer Area Plans are currently under review, both have a section incorporating the levy. It will also apply in the city, where there are various sites of mixed use. Notices will be issued shortly, and Thomastown, Callan and Graig’ will then follow.

Ms O’ Sullivan said there was a ‘generous’ appeals process in place. The council must issue written notice to the landowner, who has 28 days to make a submission. If a site is still registered, it may still be appealed — as can its market value.

“There are many opportunities for owners of vacant sites to appeal or interject,” said Ms O’ Sullivan.

Cllr Tomas Breathnach asked if the criteria made a clear distinction between ‘vacant’ sites and ‘derelict’ sites. Ms O’ Sullivan confirmed this was the case, and it is largely aimed at opening up sites for housing.

Cllr Matt Doran said he was looking forward to seeing the levy rolled out in Callan in particular.

“It’s certainly a town with huge potential to develop,” he said.

“There is an energy there at the moment, and a willingness to engage to create the possibility with the council to try and develop the town.”

Cllr David Kennedy said he broadly welcomed the initiative, but wasn’t sure about the cost-benefit. He said council staff had put in a lot of work on it, and said the council should look for some Departmental funding to assist with it.

“There’s a lot of work gone into it for relatively small gains down the line,” he said.

“We aren’t going to be rich off this.”

Ms O’ Sullivan confirmed there was no funding from the Department at present. She agreed the setup had been quite time consuming, but that this would hopefully become less and less so as the register was rolled out.

For full details, visit the council’s website or call 056-7794010.