The zoning of land is a statutory function of the relevant local authority under the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended). Section 10 (2)(a) of the Act provides that a City or County development plan shall include objectives “for the zoning of land for the use solely or primarily of particular areas for particular purposes (whether residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, recreational, as open space or otherwise, or a mixture of those uses), where and to such extent as the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, in the opinion of the planning authority, requires the uses to be indicated”.
A new development plan for each local authority must be made every six years. In accordance with Section 10 (8) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended), “There shall be no presumption in law that any land zoned in a particular development plan (including a development plan that has been varied) shall remain so zoned in any subsequent development plan”.
The zoning of land does not confer automatic permission for development to take place and any potential development on zoned land must be subject to the planning application process in accordance with Part III of the Planning and development Act 2000 (as amended). There is not, therefore, a specified period of time within which building on zoned land must take place.
It is open to local authorities to apply a vacant site levy to land zoned for residential purposes in certain circumstances, under the provisions in the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015. A vacant site levy of 3% of the market value of the relevant vacant site may be applied where a site exceeds 0.05 hectares in area; is in the planning authority’s opinion vacant or idle in the year preceding; is in an area identified by the planning authority for residential development and; meets certain other specified criteria including whether the land is serviced by infrastructure. Further to Budget 2018, the rate of the levy was increased to 7% for sites on a local authority vacant sites register from 2019 onwards.