Cork city now has more than 100 derelict sites

Cork city now has more than 100 derelict sites
Vacant sites on North Main Street. There are now more than 100 sites on Cork City Council's Derelict Sites Register.

THE number of derelict sites in the city has gone above 100 for the first time.

City Hall officials have confirmed that there are now 101 idle sites on its Derelict Sites Register with such properties attracting annual levies based on their value.

Almost €450,000 was collected last year with penalties for owners of derelict sites set to increase from 3% to 7% of the property’s market value from 2020.

While the number of properties on the site surpassed 100 in recent weeks, city councillor Thomas Gould (SF) claimed the true figure is closer to 120. He said City Hall is not “aggressive” enough in pursuing landlords sitting on idle buildings saying they should be threatened with compulsory purchase orders (CPOs).

“There are several sites pending that are not yet on the list,” said Mr Gould.

“The city council is putting sites on the list piecemeal, and the figures don’t look as bad then, but I don’t believe City Hall is being aggressive enough as it should be in getting sites on the list.

“I believe the true figure is well over 120.

“If more landlords were threatened with CPOs, I believe a number of them would bring them back into use themselves.

“The ones that won’t, we could purchase the buildings from them and use them for housing. The legislation is there to allow us to CPO these properties, but the city council is not being aggressive enough.

“You have places in Shandon St, Blarney St, and Blackpool that are lying idle for over 20 years. That’s phenomenal. Would any other major European city allow that amount of dereliction in the heart of the city?

“For years, city officials didn’t even want to list these sites as they said it wouldn’t be fair on landlords.

“But we need to force landlords to use their land, or else we will CPO it.”

However, in a statement released to The Echo, City Hall said it has almost doubled the number of sites on the register in order to force landlords to return their sites to use.

A spokesperson said: “Considerable progress has been made in adding properties to the Derelict Sites Register in the last few years. Fifty-six properties were on the register at the start of 2017, it now stands at 101.

“In 2017 we commenced a process of acquiring a number of derelict properties, particularly houses, in situations where the owner was not co-operating in clearing the dereliction.

“Six properties were acquired over the last 18 months as part of this process and the programme of acquisition is continuing.

“These properties will be returned to use either as social housing or, if not suitable for that purpose, are sold with a condition of sale that the dereliction is removed within a set period.

“This is proving to be a successful way of addressing dereliction in selected cases, and should also act as a motivator for other owners to deal with dereliction to avoid acquisition.”

Mr Gould said the council should not be taking sites from owners that are genuinely trying to bring them back into use, but that having more than 100 buildings and sites lying idle was unacceptable.

“Officials are telling me it is very expensive to bring a landlord to court to issue a CPO on them but if landlords know there’s a tough policy on these sites, they will act,” he said.

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