Galway lists no land for vacant sites levy

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Galway has listed no vacant sites for an anti-hoarding levy coming into effect in January.

Local authorities have been granted the power to impose a levy property owners who leave prime housing land undeveloped.

The levy will be payable for the first time from January, but the councils had to inform property owners of sites on the vacancy register by June 1 if they wanted it payable in 2019.

The Irish Times reports that the while sites worth over €200 million in Dublin have been listed, neither Galway city or county councils have registered any.

Chief Executive of the State’s Housing Agency John O’Connor has warned the government against increasing the levy while it is being unevenly applied.

The levy is set at 3 percent the value of the land for 2018, and is set to increase to 7 percent from 2020.

But Mr O’Connor has said that the uneven manner in which different local authorities are imposing leaves the measure open to challenge.

In order for the levy to apply the site must be over 0.05 of a hectare, excluding gardens, have been mainly vacant for over a year, and be zoned for residential use in an area that needs housing.

Galway city and county are both badly in need of fresh housing as finding a home has become a crisis.

Property owners have 28 days to appeal against their land being put on the vacant site register.

A total of €300 million worth of sites have been registered around the State so far, more than two thirds in Dublin.

Other notable inclusions are €32 million worth of sites in Cork County and 13 vacant sites in Kildare.

John O’Connor said that the vacant site levy could be very beneficial to getting housing development going, if it’s working properly.

However he said the process needs to be “rigorously uniform” in its implementation across the country, or else it may face legal challenges.