Social Democrats publish Bill to accelerate freeing of vacant land for housing

May 16, 2017

The Social Democrats today publish a Bill to free up more vacant land for housing.

Publishing the Bill today, Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy TD said:

“The housing crisis is not caused by a shortage of land to develop. It’s down to the fact that we are not building on the land that we have. Urban areas have hundreds of empty sites lying neglected and overgrown. With 7,500 people living in emergency accommodation, we have to free up every possible site for development.

The Urban Regeneration and Housing (Amendment) Bill 2017 addresses significant anomalies in current legislation and encourages the development of vacant sites in urban areas.

Deputy Murphy added: “This Bill plugs loopholes in the existing law and introduces fresh incentives to make sure that landowners and developers make more land available for housing and other developments. And more supply means that the cost of land will come down.”

Social Democrats Dublin city councillor Gary Gannon said: “The spread of vacant sites across the city are both an eyesore and a health risk. They become dumping grounds, attract vermin, and can be sites of anti-social behaviour.

“A total of 174 vacant sites have been identified in Dublin city that are less than 500 sq metres. A site this size could accommodate a dozen apartments. By encouraging the building of shops, houses and apartments on small infill sites, this Bill boosts the regeneration of Dublin as well as towns and cities across the country.”

The Social Democrats Bill promotes vacant site usage by:

Freeing up hundreds of sites that could accommodate residential units
The Bill extends the existing vacant site levy to all lands that can legally accommodate new housing – currently, the annual charge applies only to sites above 500sq metres.

Incentivising landowners to sell or develop sites rather than hoarding them
The Bill increases the rate of the vacant site levy the longer sites remain undeveloped. Currently, a 3% levy would apply, regardless of how long a site has been vacant. Under the Bill, this rate increases by one per centage point for every full year that a site remains on the Vacant Sites Registers that all local authorities are obliged to publish.

Prioritising the public good over the rights of indebted landowners
The Bill applies a 3% vacant site levy even to sites which have significant outstanding loans – currently, the higher the loan attached to a site, the lower the levy.

Making more information about vacant land publicly available
The Bill requires the zoning status and exact size of all sites to be published on the online Vacant Sites Register.

The Social Democrats’ Bill amends the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015.

The Bill is to be introduced in the Dáil as a Private Member’s Bill on Tuesday 16th May 2017 by the party’s co-leader Catherine Murphy TD.

Download the Bill – Urban Regeneration and Housing Bill 2017

ENDS