Levy on derelict buildings proposal put to council

Dunluce Street in Larne. INLT-20-702-con
Dunluce Street in Larne. INLT-20-702-con

Owners of derelict buildings in Mid and East Antrim could be forced to pay a levy under new plans being considered by the Department of Finance.

Mid and East Antrim councillors were due to be informed of the department’s intention to collect information on derelict or idle sites and buildings with a view to implementing a potential charge at a meeting of the council’s Policy and Resources Committee on Tuesday night.

The report stated that after the recent review of non-domestic rates, “considerable support” had been expressed for the imposition of a levy on derelict or idle land and buildings.

DFP is now seeking Council’s help to identify privately-owned derelict land and buildings which have been lying vacant for some time, have a detrimental effect on the area, and may be inhibiting regeneration.

The council has already responded to a DOE consultation on the issue by calling for a new Assembly Bill which would provide a new, broader enforcement regime.

The Republic recently introduced legislation and levies to control derelict sites, and the Scottish Government is also considering similar measures.

A recommendation was due to be put before councillors to endorse the provision of relevant information to the DFP in relation to Mid and East Antrim’s derelict or idle sites on Tuesday night.

Chair of Larne Traders’ Forum John Shannon welcomed the proposal “in principle”.

“I think legislation is long overdue as there are people who own derelict sites and have the money to improve them, but aren’t doing anything,” he said.

“Even if we just demolish it and have a tidy, empty space or put a big sign on the sides to improve the facade, like they did for the Giro, that would be better. A lot of money has been spent on the public realm scheme and it looks absolutely fantastic, but there is the odd eyesore. However, some people who own these properties are financially challenged and won’t be able to tidy them up or demolish them.”