Under the vacant site levy provisions in the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015, planning authorities were empowered to apply a vacant site levy of 3% of the market valuation of relevant properties which were listed on local authority vacant site registers in 2018, which relevant owners were liable to pay in January 2019. The rate of the levy increased to 7% for sites listed on local authority vacant sites register from 2019 onwards which site owners became liable to pay in January 2020.
My Department proactively engages with local authorities with a view to ensuring that the vacant site levy achieves its full potential in terms of bringing concerned sites into productive use. In this regard, the Department issued Circular Letter PL 08/2020 on 9 June 2020 requesting the submission of a further progress report on the implementation of the levy by each local authority.
The Department received a return from each of the 31 local authorities which indicated that, as of 31 May 2020, there were 352 sites listed on local authority registers.
The below table sets out the information available in relation to the specific request, which as indicated covers the period to 31 May 2020:
Some local authorities noted delays in issuing demands for payments in 2020 due to COVID-19.
All levies due on an individual site will remain a charge on the land concerned until all outstanding levies due are paid. Accordingly, under the vacant site levy provisions, there will be a cumulative effect associated with not activating a site for development purposes for each year that a site remains vacant or idle and in respect of which levy liability is not paid.
The levy is not intended to be a revenue generating measure with the proceeds accruing to the relevant local authority rather than the Exchequer. The levy proceeds generated are specifically intended to be used by local authorities for the provision of housing and regeneration development in the local area in which vacant sites are located. No more than 10% of the levy monies received by planning authorities may be used on their administration costs in collecting the levy.
My Department is in the process of requesting the submission of a further progress report on the implementation and collection of the levy by local authorities in the coming weeks covering the period to end 2020, which will also remind them of their obligation to collect all levies due. My Department will continue to engage proactively with local authorities to ensure that all vacant site levies due are paid and that the measure can achieve its full potential.