Cork City Council: Derelict site levies tripled in 2021 

Last year, a total of €570,000 was collected by the council, compared to €163,231 in 2020 and €189,976 in 2019.
Cork City Council: Derelict site levies tripled in 2021 

This year from January until the end of May, the council has collected €227,082 in derelict site levies. Picture Denis Minihane.

CORK City Council collected more than triple the amount in derelict site levies in 2021 compared to the year previous, new figures show.

Last year, a total of €570,000 was collected by the council, compared to €163,231 in 2020 and €189,976 in 2019.

This year from January until the end of May, the council has collected €227,082 in derelict site levies.

The information was provided to councillors by the city council’s director of strategic and economic development, Fearghal Reidy at a council meeting earlier this week.

It followed a question submitted by Green Party councillor Colette Finn who requested the council to give a breakdown of the derelict site fees collected from 2019 to date.

Speaking to The Echo in relation to the figures, Ms Finn said it is a “welcome development that the levy collection has increased”.

However, she said “a lot more” needs to be done to fully address the blight of dereliction in the city.

“It breaks my heart to see houses that could be homes vacant or allowed to become derelict.

“There is a home that I have reported to the council, it has been vacant for 12 years after the elderly couple that lived in it died.

“It is not on the derelict sites register yet because finally, the owners have started to engage with the council,” she said.

Ms Finn continued: “I’m hoping that it will soon have a for-sale sign or that someone will move in. We have to do better on vacancy and dereliction.

“I can understand that owners may be in difficulty, but to allow a building fall down or become uninhabitable is just not acceptable in my opinion,” she said.

Ms Finn said families have been in touch with her who are “desperate for secure accommodation”.

“Cork City Council housing section does tremendous work and they are at the coalface with these families.

“At the best of times it is not acceptable to allow a building to lie idle or fall into disrepair, but when people are struggling to get secure, affordable shelter it is unforgivable.”

Cork City Council had previously stated that 2020, in particular, “posed challenges for the collection of the levy” because of Covid-19 restrictions.

At a council meeting last year, Mr Reidy said that the council engages with site owners about the removal of dereliction and that staff also work informally with site owners, where assistance can be provided, to pre-empt dereliction.

Mr Reidy said that the council offers payment plans and works consistently with site owners to address matters of dereliction and payment of the levy.

Frank O’Connor, co-founder of Anois, and Judy Sherry, who campaign against dereliction, said that while it is “good to see progress” with the increase in the amount in levies collected last year, as compared to 2020, “lots more than that should be collected”.

“We need to be proactive in collecting dereliction levies, as this would provide a strong foundation for a one-stop-shop support unit.

“Inland Revenue should be tasked with the responsibility for collection, as proposed in the recent Oireachtas report,” Mr O’Connor told The Echo.

He added that Cork City “has a real opportunity to show vision and leadership by ending dereliction”.

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