ALMOST €1.6m worth of fees owed in derelict sites levies went uncollected by Cork City Council during 2020, while Cork County Council collected just 2% of fees owed to them.
The situation has been described as a “scandal” by a Cork TD.
The amount outstanding in respect of derelict sites levied during 2020 to Cork City Council was €1,576,409 while a figure of €43,800 was outstanding to Cork County Council.
The full amount levied by Cork City Council and Cork County Council were €1,739,640 and €44,700 respectively last year.
Cork City Council collected just €163,231 (9.4%) in dereliction fees, while Cork County Council recouped just €900 (2%).
The cumulative of levies outstanding on December 31, 2020, in Cork City Council was €3,432,955 and €44,700 in Cork County Council.
Cork TD Thomas Gould said:
“I believe this is a scandal, especially in a time when we are in the worst housing crisis in the history of the State. It is a disgrace there are derelict sites all around the city and the landowners don’t seem to give a damn. They won’t pay the levies and the local authorities are not following up on the issue, while the Government won’t support the local authorities."
The Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central said local authorities should be provided with more resources to ensure more money is raised from the Derelict Sites Levy.
“Each local authority should have a specific derelict sites team. Their job would be to identify all the sites as quickly as possible and identify the ones that could be turned into housing and then compulsory purchase them. The full levy should be charged and there should be no rebates.
“We are spending millions on homeless services in Cork every year. We are spending hundreds of millions on Housing Assistance Payment Scheme, Rental Accommodation Scheme and Rent Supplement and then we have money for derelict sites not collected. These are houses, sites, and buildings on the register that are empty and some are derelict for decades. The consequences are felt by the local community and by the ordinary people who need a home. Every one of these derelict sites could be in use now. They could have families making memories, businesses creating employment, or communities coming together. This isn’t just about lost revenue, it’s about lost potential,” he added.
A spokesperson for Cork City Council told The Echo that Covid-19 affected the development and sale of sites.
“€363,231 has been collected in respect of 2020. €200,000 was paid in 2021 to add to the figure of €163,231 for 2020. 2020 was a very difficult year. Covid-19 affected the development and sale of sites and subsequent discharge of the levy.
“The collection of Derelict Sites is challenging, owners can be deceased, properties with complicated title issues and probate issues. Usually, the levies are discharged on the sale of a site, and it can take some time for a site to be sold in certain circumstances. We also welcome that levies can be paid in smaller installments. Also in some cases, the site owners/reps may not have the financial resources to pay the levy. Derelict Sites levy collection is difficult for all local authorities. We are doing what we can to collect,” the spokesperson added.
Currently, derelict sites are charged at 7% of the market value of the site. The spokesperson said a number of sites are currently undergoing compulsory acquisition.
“As part of this process, any monies outstanding are discharged. Any charges on a site become payable on disposal/sale of a site.”
A spokesperson for Cork County Council told The Echo that each case is reviewed on an individual case: “Each case is reviewed on an individual case by case basis and appropriate action is taken having regard to the circumstances of the case. Appropriate action may include the Council initiating legal proceedings and seeking to register a charge against the title of the property.
“Cork County Council has served derelict sites notices on the land/property owners in these cases. Where possible, the Council seeks to acquire properties by way of agreement rather than by Compulsory Purchase Order.”
The spokesperson added that engaging with site owners often ensures a mutually beneficial outcome is achieved. “Significant efforts have been made by Cork County Council staff and Municipal District Officers to engage with site owners outside of the formal Derelict Sites process. This is often the most successful approach as it involves a collaborative approach between the site owner and the Council in agreeing on a mutually beneficial outcome to render the site more presentable, and no longer derelict. This deep level of engagement isn’t reflected in the number of sites levied. Cork County Council’s approach has been to only enter lands on the derelict sites register when informal efforts prove unsuccessful, and it is at this stage that formal derelict sites notices are issued.
“In some instances, the local Tidy Towns group, Community Associations, Town Chambers, and similar local structures may be involved in the conversation. This proactive approach, deploying initiatives established by the Council, takes place outside of the statutory Derelict Sites process and, as a result, may not be reflected in the figures,” the spokesperson added.
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