09 Dec 2021

Another Kilkenny site avoids vacant levy due to lack of 12 months' evidence

'Procedural issues’ sees site removed from council's register

Bord Pleanala

File Photo: The Bord determined that, based on the information before it, the site is not a vacant site within the meaning of the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act, 2015, as amended

A lack of evidence showing the site was vacant/idle for the previous 12 months has resulted in another piece of land in Kilkenny being removed from the council's Vacant Sites Register.

The site in question is located at Middleknock, close to the roundabout at the intersection of the Dublin Road and the N10.
On December 31, 2018, Kilkenny County Council advised the landowner that the site was to be included on the register. It said the site is classified as residential land, has been vacant or idle for the last 12 months, is located in an area in need of housing, and is suitable for housing.

The landowner submitted an appeal to the Bord against the decision on the basis that it is in the process of bringing forward a new planning scheme for the site.

The owner did not appeal the condition of the site in terms of vacant or idle, and accepted that the lands are suitable for housing. It said that the issues that hampered a previous planning application were in the process of being addressed, and a new planning application would be lodged soon.

In his report, an inspector from An Bord Pleanala says the relevant time period for the appeal extends 12 months back from the date the site was entered on the register, and notes “the relevant time period is a very important factor and one upon which the 2015 Act is quite plain in its interpretation”.

“The planning authority should provide a clear chronology to confirm site visits and provide a definitive assessment of the duration of twelve months,” he says.

“In this instance the planning authority have not adequately accounted for the duration of the twelve-month period.”

The inspector ultimately found that though it was ‘likely and probable’ the lands had been vacant or idle for the relevant time period, he could not be certain, and 'for this reason alone', the site should be removed from the register.

In its direction, the Bord determined, generally in accordance with the inspector, that based on the information before it, the site was not a vacant site.

It’s not the first time a site has been removed from the Vacant Site Register for this procedural issue. Ealier in August, a site on Hebron Road - which was previously proposed and given planning permission for a new religious and cultural centre, including a mosque - was also removed from the register for this reason. Again, while An Bord Pleanala’s inspector agreed it was ‘likely and probable’ the site had been vacant for 12 months, evidence supporting this was not provided.

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