Vacant Sites

Implementation of the Vacant Site Levy in Offaly
(Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015)

The Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015 (URHA) signed into law in July 2015 has a specific focus on addressing housing supply related issues across the country consequent to the Government’s Construction 2020 Strategy. URHA 2015 introduces the vacant site levy and is intended to act as a site activation and release mechanism and to incentivize the development of vacant or idle sites in urban areas. All planning authorities are encouraged to implement the provisions of URHA with respect to the vacant site levy by way of an approach which includes the following steps:

  • Establish and maintain a vacant site register (1st January 2017)
  • Make provision for the development of vacant sites in designated areas by way of an explicit objective in development plans.
  • Identify vacant sites
  • Engage with landowners
  • Register vacant sites
  • Application of levy

Vacant Site Register

Under the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015, all planning authorities are required to establish and maintain a Vacant Site Register.  The Register must be in place by January 1st 2017.  An identified vacant site can be entered on the register when the authority is of the opinion that it has been vacant for a minimum of 12 months preceding its entry on the register.

Sites under consideration as Vacant Sites are assessed against criteria set out in the Act which can be summarised as follows:

The site has an area in excess of 0.05 hectares and is zoned for either residential or regeneration purposes. 

In the case of residential land the site is:

  • Situated in an area in need of housing
  • The site is suitable for the provision of housing and
  • The site or the majority of the site is vacant or idle

And in the case of regeneration land:

  • The site, or the majority of the site is  vacant or idle and
  • The site being vacant has an adverse effect on existing amenities or reduces the amenity provided by existing public infrastructure and facilities.

 Each vacant site placed on the register will include the following information:- Where the site comprises registered land, the folio details- The name and address of the owner- Particulars of the market value of the site; and- Such other information referred to in the Act that the Minister may prescribe.Additional information in relation to dates and location may also be provided for ease of reference.

The Vacant Sites Register for County Offaly is available on the link below 

Vacant Site Register.pdf.pdf (size 37.7 KB)

What has been the process to date in County Offaly?

In line with the approach outlined in the Department's Circular Letter PL7/2016 Implementation of the Vacant Site Levy, in the first instance Offaly County Council is required to include an explicit objective for the development and renewal of identified areas in need of residential or regeneration development as part of the Core Strategy of the Offaly County Development Plan 2014-2020. This objective is also required to be included as part of the core strategy in both the Tullamore and Birr Town and Environs Development Plans 2010 (as extended).

In line with legislative provisions, the objective will be incorporated specifically into the into the Core Strategy section and thereafter other relevant sections of the plans.

The insertion of the explicit objective into the development plans is being undertaken by way of variation to the existing plans (currently ongoing). Fundamentally this provides for the inclusion of the objective as well as the identification of both Residential and/or Regeneration lands/areas for the purposes of the future application of a Vacant Site Levy in certain areas as determined by a supporting evidence base.


Next Steps

The identification of individual vacant sites in the relevant designated areas as identified in the development plans will be undertaken after each plan is varied to include the objective and Residential and Regeneration areas. This will involve, by way of separate process, the identification of individual sites and engagement with property owners to bring these sites back into use. Sites considered suitable in the context of the criteria set out in URHA 2015 may be placed on the Vacant Site Register. A levy will be charged on the registered owner of each vacant site which remains included on the vacant site register, a charge of 3%pa of the market value from 1st January 2019 rising to 7% pa of the market value of the property from 1st January 2020.

Where can I find out more?

You can contact the Planning Department on (057) 93 57414 or email for more information.

This website will be updated as process on the Implementation of the Vacant Site Levy in County Offaly progresses.