Roscommon councillors opposed to plans to introduce 3% vacant site levy

Councillors in Roscommon are calling on the government to abandon plans to introduce a vacant site levy in rural counties.

The scheme which will come into operation in 2018, will require owners of lands zoned residential to pay an annual 3% levy if they are not developed.

Local authorities across the country will begin compiling a register of owners of lands and sites for residential development early in 2017.

In areas where it’s deemed there’s a need for more housing, the owners of the land will be charged 3% of its market value for non-development.

Members of Roscommon County Council believe that while this scheme is suitable for larger cities where owners are purposely sitting on land banks waiting for a higher price, this is not appropriate for rural counties, where the property market has not fully recovered and the remnants of the last property boom is evident in the number of as yet unfinished estates.

Among the contributions at yesterday’s monthly meeting of the council Fianna Fail’s Paddy Kilduff branded the proposal as ‘hairbrained’, Fine Gael’s Liam Callaghan was ‘aghast’ and Councillor Laurence Fallon urged the Minister and his officials in Dublin to ‘go back to the drawing board’.

Councillors maintain that the move will actually stifle the potential for future development as people will seek to have their lands de-zoned – a question on the prospect of returning to local area plans by Orla Leyden was rejected by Planning Director Martin Lydon.

Councillor Ivan Connaughton, who’s also an auctioneer, explained that it’s simply not in the interests of any landowner to embark on a large-scale development at least not for now: