Plans for councils to levy city's vacant lots
Former banks, shops, offices and sites left idle may face levies to bring more life back into urban centres.
Dublin city councillor Ciaran Cuffe welcomed a move to impose fines of up to tens of thousands of euro on property owners who allow buildings to remain empty for years.
"It's just not acceptable that buildings in the city can be allowed to remain empty for years by owners who just wait around for property prices to go higher. Price speculation should not be allowed keep premises idle in communities," said Cllr Cuffe.
The Green Party councillor said Environment Minister Alan Kelly was moving "in the right direction" in proposing action to bring levies on properties that are allowed to remain unused for long periods.
The minister is preparing a new planning law to impose penalties on owners of vacant properties in town centres. Currently, only properties listed as derelict are subject to annual penalties. The number of vacant premises is ten times greater than the number of derelict sites - up to 600 in Dublin alone.
Minister Kelly will bring proposals to Cabinet to give local councils the power to impose an annual levy of 3pc to 4pc of the market value of buildings that are allowed to remain idle.
The minister agrees that empty bank buildings or closed down shops that remain empty year on year have a depressing effect on business activity and local pride.
Unoccupied commercial premises are charged only half the commercial rates by councils and owners may not feel motivated to sell them or rent them.
Cllr Cuffe said: "Taking action that causes empty premises and buildings to be used again has a knock-on effect on the whole community. It increases footfall for local businesses and brings the life back into local communities.
"And there are too many upper floors of business premises lying idle all over Dublin. These properties need to be used as homes to bring life back into city centre areas," he said.