11 Aug 2022

Sites removed from Kilkenny's Vacant Site Register as council receives legal advice

Council is now conducting a review of the remaining 27 sites

County Hall.

The local authority is currently conducting a review of the remaining 27 sites on the Register

Two sites listed on Kilkenny’s Vacant Sites Register have been removed on foot of legal advice received by Kilkenny County Council from the county solicitor.

The local authority is currently conducting a review of the remaining 27 sites, and there is potential for further properties to be removed as a result.

It follows recent concerns raised over the eligibility of a number of sites included on the Register, including some family-owned farmland. At one recent council meeting, Cllr Patrick McKee said some local farmers had lost sleep over the inclusion of their land. Last month, the council decided to seek legal counsel on the matter.

Speaking to the Kilkenny People yesterday, director of services at Kilkenny County Council Sean McKeown confirmed that two entries on the Register had since been removed. He said that the advice received indicated that the definition of ‘vacant/idle’ in the Act is deficient, and not elaborated on.

“We have to take it in the narrowest context,” he said, adding that the Circulars issued by the Department cannot override the legislation.

The owners of the two sites which have since been removed from the register have been informed of their removal. The council has also taken steps to inform An Bord Pleanala of their removal, as appeals had been made in both cases to the Bord.

“We are now under taking a full review of the other 27 sites on the Register,” Mr McKeown told the Kilkenny People.

Mr McKeown said this review would be carried out quickly, and it will be concluded ahead of the May monthly meeting of Kilkenny County Council, when members will receive an update on the issue.

“Sites that are owned by farmers and being used for agricultural purposes will not be added,” he said.

Cllr Patrick McKee, who was one of those to highlight the concerns of those landowners affected, says the process of implementing the levy so far has been a ‘complete  mess’.

“I have been raising concerns for several months now on behalf of local families and frankly, if the council had listened to my concerns and taken my advice when it was offered, and indeed sought the views of the county solicitor at an early stage, we would not be in this position today,” he said.

The Kilkenny City West councillor has now called for a full review of the Vacant Site Levy to be carried out immediately.

“The wrongs that have been done must be undone and at the very least, those who have been negatively affected must be reimbursed the expenses that they have had to fork out to protect their legal interests,” he said.

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