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 in 2018. The rate of the levy has 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.
The primary objective of the levy is to act as a mechanism to incentivise the development of vacant and underutilised sites in urban areas for both the provision of housing and the development and renewal of land, thereby facilitating the most efficient use of such land and sites and enabling them to be brought into beneficial use rather than allowing them to remain dormant and undeveloped. It is not intended that the levy be a revenue generating measure. The proceeds of the levy do not accrue to the Exchequer.
The proceeds of the levy raised on vacant sites by individual planning authorities will be used by them for the provision of housing and regeneration development in the local area in which vacant sites are located. For example, the levy proceeds may be spent on:
- the provision of housing, the preservation/protection of structures of special architectural, historical, cultural interest etc.,
- the provision or improvement of services or facilities for the local community i.e. education, training, recreational, cultural facilities,
- the preservation, improvement and extension of amenities, including recreational amenities, on the land, civic improvements, and
- projects/works for the benefit of urban streets in the area including the improvement of streets/ footpaths in local shopping streets and business areas and the removal of graffiti.
No more than 10% of the levy monies received by planning authorities may be used on their administration costs.