Since 1 January 2017, Local Authorities have been registering vacant sites that fall under the definition of "residential land" or "regeneration land" as set out in the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015 ("2015 Act"). The 2015 Act has been amended by the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018 ("2018 Act"), with one of the biggest changes being an increase in the levy due by the owner of a vacant site from 3% to 7% from 2019 onwards.
To recap, the 2015 Act sets out the criteria to be applied by the Local Authority in determining what a vacant site is. It must ensure that that the site:
measures in excess of 0.05 hectares; is suitable for the provision of housing or in an area zoned for residential use; and that the majority of the site is vacant or idle for 12 months. In the case of regeneration land, it must also be shown that:
on account of the site being vacant/idle, it has an adverse effect on the existing amenities or reduces the amenity provided by existing public infrastructure or has adverse effects on the character of the area. In terms of the notification process, once the Local Authority has identified a site, it must give written notice the property owner by 1 November of the prevailing year. Meaning, for 2018, the Local Authority had until 1 November 2018 to inform the owner that their site had been added to the register and, subject to a successful objection, payment will be due in January 2019. Lands subject to the derelict sites levy will not be liable to the vacant sites levy.
An owner of lands placed on the register should ensure that the Local Authority has met all the requirements set out under the Acts, confirm the market value is accurate and review whether any reliefs are available. The owner has 28 days to review and submit a response to the placement of a site on the register, or raise objection. The submission of false or misleading evidence/information is an offence.
Changes under the 2018 Act
A number of changes have been...