Kevin O'Higgins Solicitors

Coalition considers vacant site tax

Monday, 16 December, 2013
The Irish Times
by Fiach Kelly

Construction will be one of the main areas of focus for the Government next year as part of wider effort to boost employment, and changes to local planning laws and a tax on unused sites are being considered.

A tax on vacant development sites is one of a number of options being considered as part of Government efforts to kick start the property sector.

Construction will be one of the main areas of focus for the Government next year as part of wider effort to boost employment, and changes to local planning laws and a tax on unused sites are being considered.

Dublin City Council called for such a levy earlier this year, and Coalition sources say it will now be considered by a group which will be set up in the Department of the Taoiseach to examine how to stimulate the sector.

The construction industry is also singled out as a potential growth area in the medium term economic plan to be published this week, with demand for family homes in Dublin rising in particular.

The plan says: “The decline in the construction sector in Ireland in recent years has been unprecedented in its scale and duration, and the sector is widely seen as having ‘over-corrected’, particularly by comparison with international norms.

“Government is committed to playing its part in addressing the over-correction, to help bring the construction sector back to more appropriate and sustainable levels.”

While the plan will not contain any specific measures, a senior Coalition source said there are a “number of things we can look at”next year.

“There are no concrete proposals yet but these will all be considered. A vacant site levy, whether Nama can do more and changing the planning laws.

“We’ll be looking at what’s getting in the way and how we can fix it. Some people in Dublin City Council have been pushing for it [A LEVY]) and it is definitely worth consideration.”

Another possible move is changing local planning laws to enable greater flexibility in planning permissions already granted. “Someone could have planning for a block of apartments that might not be of use anymore, so we could look at making it easier to go back to the local authorities to change things,” the source added.