Developer loses appeal to keep land off Vacant Sites Register in Galway City

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A developer has lost their fight to keep a plot of land on the Ballymoneen Road off the Vacant Sites Register in Galway City after An Bord Pleanála shot down their appeal.

Galway City Council notified Cairn Homes Properties Limited in March of 2019 that it intended to place a site it owned on the Ballymoneen Road on the Vacant Sites Register.

The greenfield site lies to the north west of the Fána Bui housing estate in the Ballyburke suburb of Galway city.

Under the 2015 Urban Regeneration and Housing Act, local authorities are required to maintain a register of residential or regeneration land in its area which has been vacant for more than 12 months.

Since 2019, such sites have been subject to an annual levy of 7% of the land’s value, increased from 3% originally.

The city council said that this residential zoned land was vacant during two visits to the site on December 19, 2016 and December 5 of 2018.

The Dublin based developer lodged an appeal against this decision with An Bord Pleanála on April 5 of 2019.

In the appeal the developer disputed the claim that the site was idle, saying that they are preparing a Strategic Housing Development application for this land, and more in the area.

However, they also said that the site is “intrinsically linked” to the planned N6 Ring Road, which will cross the north east part of the site, and that site access, layout and servicing are dependent on completing a detailed design for the proposed Galway City ring road.

The inspector for An Bord Pleanála said that the land is zoned residential, and that the city council had demonstrated that there is a need for housing in the area.

It was also noted that Cairn Homes has “not put forward any evidence to the contrary” that the site was vacant during the 12 months in between the city council’s visits.

“From observations on site, it is clear that the site has been inactive for some time
and is vacant and idle,” the report states.

The inspector also disputed that the N6 Ring Road has to be finalised before a housing application can proceed, noting that the site is accessible from the Ballymoneen Road.

An Bord Pleanála ultimately ruled in line with the inspector’s recommendation to confirm its entry on the Vacant Sites Register.