Real Estate Update: The Urban Regeneration And Housing Act 2015 - 'Use It Or Lose It!'

Author:Ms Rachel Carney and Louise Gannon
Profession:Mason Hayes & Curran

New legislation has recently been enacted and was signed into law by the President of Ireland on 28 July 2015 which is focused on addressing the housing supply related issue in Ireland. The Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015 (the "Act") aims to incentivise urban regeneration with a view to facilitating increased activity in the housing construction sector. The Act heralds another step of the Government's 2020 Construction Initiative to renew and develop the construction sector and will have a significant impact on both developers and land owners.  

There are two main strands to the legislation:

The introduction of the vacant site levy; Revisions to planning development contribution requirements and to social housing provision.  1. Vacant Site Levy

The Act allows local authorities to impose a vacant site levy on land which has been zoned as suitable for housing and which has been left idle by as owners.

The levy will apply to land which has been sold primarily for residential purposes and land which has been designated with the objective of development and regeneration. The intention of the provisions introduced is to prevent land-hoarding.

If landowners fail to bring forward proposals for the use of the land and cannot provide good reasons for refusing to bring the land into productive use, the levy will be imposed.

What Constitutes a "Vacant Site"?

A site is situated in an area in which there is a need for housing:

A site is suitable for the provision of housing; A site or the majority of the site is vacant or idle; For regeneration land, where the site, being vacant or idle, has adverse effects on existing amenities or reduces the amenity provided by existing public infrastructure and facilities in the area where the site is located.  A "site" is defined as any area of land exceeding 0.05 hectares but the definition does not include a structure that is a person's home, a dwelling in which a person ordinarily resides.

The vacant site levy will generally be an annual charge of 3% of the market value of each site.

Vacant Sites Register

By 1 January 2017, all planning authorities are required to have established a vacant sites register.  Each vacant site will be registered on a the relevant local authority's vacant sites register.  This list will ensure that all vacant sites are known and will allow for the provision of a baseline for local authorities to take action in terms of levies.

A levy will be charged and levied beginning...

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