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First entries on Dublin Vacant Site Register show lack of plan for State-controlled sites

The first entries on the Dublin City Council Vacant Site Register, published today, show how little is being done by Government to use publicly controlled land to deliver new housing supply in Dublin.

Róisín Shortall, co-leader of the Social Democrats, said “In total the sites are valued at €77.7m. Of the 25 sites listed, 11 are state-controlled or owned by state-funded bodies. There should be a plan in place for each of these sites to determine whether or not they are suitable for development and how they can be developed as quickly as possible.

It’s ridiculous that the Government is sitting on so much unused land in the middle of a housing emergency. Where is the urgency to use these sites?”

Ms. Shortall also criticised the delay in producing the register, “At least Dublin City Council is showing some signs of implementing this levy. The vacant site registers for the three other local authorities in Dublin remain empty. Are they taking it seriously at all?

Ms. Shortall also drew attention to the exclusion of many sites from the list.

“The Government could bring far more sites into play by allowing the levy to be applied to smaller sites. Some smaller sites that could accommodate housing will be exempt from the levy because, under legislation, the levy can’t be applied to sites under 0.05 hectares in area.

Already we have seen that 174 such sites have been excluded for this reason alone by Dublin City Council.

The Government should also close off the loop-hole in the current legislation that allows certain land to be exempt from the levy – ie: land where the site value is exceeded by the loan value.

And the rate of the levy should be increased the longer sites remain vacant. We could well see a situation where the rate of the levy (3%) is less than inflation in land prices – which would provide no incentive at all for land-owners to release the land for housing.

High land prices are at the heart of why house prices and renting are so unaffordable in our country. The vacant site levy can be an important lever to free up development land in prime locations. It just has to be designed and implemented properly”.