'Cork should tax derelict sites to help solve housing shortages'

'Cork should tax derelict sites to help solve housing shortages'
Economist David Mc Williams before speaking at the Focus Ireland Conference in Cork.Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

A DERELICTION tax could play a major role in rebuilding Cork city and solving housing shortages, economist David McWilliams has said.

Mr McWilliams said City Hall should be given the powers to impose hefty penalties on the owners of derelict properties.

“Say to landlords, ‘if you want to keep a place derelict, it’s going to cost you. There is going to be a site value tax. If you want to renovate, we are going to help you’ and so you encourage good behaviour and penalise bad behaviour,” said Mr McWilliams.

The economist said the cost of building houses is the same in Ireland as England, but sites are much more expensive here.

“That is why we should put a tax on dereliction to drive down the price of sites,” he said.

Mr McWilliams was the keynote speaker at the 14th annual Focus Ireland conference held at City Hall yesterday.

Comparing the 1981 census with the latest 2016 census, he said it reveals a dramatic change in lifestyle choices which need to be reflected in our housing developments in the city.

“In 1981, as little as 12% of women in their 30s were single, now over 51% of men and women in their 30s are single.

“We are single longer, we have kids later, the whole structure of how we want to live has changed profoundly.”

Mr McWilliams added: “Redevelop the city. Cork is a beautiful city, I would love to live here if I could.”

A dereliction tax would dramatically reduce the incentive for people in the city not to use the land they own, he said.

The economist also said that planning restrictions on height should be overhauled to allow for taller buildings.

Also speaking at the conference, Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said the issue of homelessness is becoming more and more polarising in society.

“People are supporting one side or the other, and it’s in danger of becoming a political crisis,” he said.

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