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Dublin: 15 °C Tuesday 16 September, 2014

Plan to target land-hoarders could create tens of thousands of jobs

A plan to impose a harsh levy on developers hanging on to prime land is being considered by Cabinet. It’s hoped the measure could help boost the supply of family homes, particularly in Dublin.

DUBLIN’S LORD MAYOR is welcoming a move by the Government aimed at increasing the supply of homes in the capital by imposing a harsh levy on developers who don’t build on prime sites.

A special Cabinet meeting will be held later this week to discuss the plans. It’s hoped the scheme will boost the supply of housing in Dublin city in particular, creating tens of thousands of construction jobs in the process.

The levy plan has been championed by Oisín Quinn, who set up a task force on the issue last summer. The team of councillors, city officials and property experts handed a submission on their proposed scheme to Government last July.

The task force has met with senior Government advisors over the last few months as work on the plans continued, and also held meetings with NAMA Chairman Frank Daly and Environment Minister Phil Hogan.

It’s hoped the threat of punitive new levies will encourage developers holding on to zoned land to build on it — thus increasing the supply of housing, hotel and office space in the city centre.

This week’s Cabinet meeting comes in the context of a shrinking supply of family homes in the Dublin area. It emerged last week that there were only 3,000 residential properties for sale in the capital — down from 6,000 two years ago.

Levies

Quinn said that having too many vacant sites could damage the city’s attractiveness, economic potential and lead to increased urban sprawl.

“We need to develop that space — to grow without sprawling, in order to create a thriving residential and retail community in the city,” Quinn said.

As part of the plans, developers would be given the chance to get a break from any new levies if they allow vacant spaces to be used for a pop-up park or other civic-minded project. Quinn said this part of the plan had been received very positively in meetings so far.

“We’re very keen to ensure that we don’t punish people who are trying to develop — so by doing this, developers can effectively hand over the keys to the council for a set amount of time and the land can be put to public use.”

Positive effects

The Lord Mayor said the proposed scheme was already having some positive effects, as there were indications that site speculators were changing their behaviour as the plan gained positive traction.

It’s understood the ‘levy’ proposal is being considered as part of a range of measures aimed at increasing housing supply in the country.

A spokesperson for building industry body the CIF said that while the overall plan aimed at boosting supply of homes was to be welcomed, the imposition of a levy on developers would only serve to provide another “barrier to building” and would ultimately push up prices for house purchasers.

Read: Developers hanging on to prime Dublin sites should face penalties

More: Dublin needs a mayor with ‘real powers’, but role unlikely before 2019 >

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