Tougher penalties could be imposed on vacant sites

The Green Party says it wants to fix 'fundamental flaws'

Tougher penalties could be imposed on vacant sites

Apartments overlook land waiting to be developed in Clongriffen, Dublin | Image:

A new bill is aiming to tackle vacant and derelict sites around the country.

The Green Party says it wants to fix 'fundamental flaws' in the Government's approach.

It has published legislation, which will be debated and voted on in the Seanad on Wednesday.

The Derelict and Vacant Sites Bill 2017 would increase levies on vacant sites from 3% per year to 5%.

It would also bring forward the date from which they apply from 2019 to mid-2017.

All sites would also be included under the new legislation - currently, sites under 500m2 are exempt.

Speaking ahead of the Seanad debate, Green Party 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 bill aims to remove the minimum site size from the current legislation, which would bring far more vacant and derelict sites under the scope of the legislation."

While Green Party leader Eamon Ryan 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."

He also said 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", he added.