Under the vacant site levy provisions in the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015, planning authorities are empowered to apply a vacant site levy of 3% of the market value of relevant vacant sites where a site exceeds 0.05 hectares in area, was in the planning authority’s opinion vacant or idle in 2018, and is in an area identified by the planning authority in its development plan or local area plan for residential or regeneration development. As signalled in Budget 2018, the rate of the levy has been increased to 7% for sites on a local authority vacant sites register from 2019 onwards and in respect of which site owners will become liable to with effect from January 2020.
My Department does not maintain a central register of vacant sites, as each local authority administers the vacant site register in respect of their functional area. As provided for under the Act, the register in respect of each local authority is available for inspection at its offices and online on its website. However, on foot of a recent review of the on-line vacant site registers across all local authority areas, I understand that there are collectively over 380 individual sites currently on the local registers. Over 120 of these sites were entered on the local vacant site registers on 1 January 2018 and are therefore subject to the levy in 2019, unless development works were activated in the interim.
The specific information sought by the Deputy in relation to the amount of the levy that would be raised in particular circumstances is not available in my Department. However, based on the current legislative provisions and a recent review of the sites currently listed on local authority registers, it is estimated that the levy proceeds nationally could be of the order of €7.6m in 2019 (applying the current 3% levy rate) and €22.7m in 2020 (applying the increased 7% levy rate). The latter estimate for 2020 is based on the number of sites currently included on the local vacant site registers and in respect of which market valuations have been attached to the registered sites. It is anticipated that the number of registered sites in respect of which market valuations will be obtained will increase in the coming months which should result in an increase in the estimated levy proceeds nationally for 2020.
My Department continues to monitor implementation of the levy to ensure that it is being effectively applied, in line with its intended purpose of incentivising the development of vacant or under-utilised sites in urban areas.