Over 250 derelict sites and buildings in Cork City

More than 250 derelict or ‘at risk of dereliction’ sites and buildings have been identified in Cork City following a major survey.

There are currently 24 sites on the city’s Derelict Sites Register but that figure is set for a massive jump as the city council embarks on one of its most concerted efforts yet to tackle the problem.

It follows a major city-wide survey to identify the full extent of dereliction within the council’s administrative area.

As part of the bid to tackle dereliction, a task-force has been set up to review the operation of the derelict sites process in a bid to streamline the system.

The news emerged as figures show the council has collected just 10% of the €209,988 derelict sites levies issued to property owners in the last three years.

Under the process, the owner of a derelict site or building becomes liable for an annual levy of 3% of the market value of the site once it is placed on the register.

The council is also empowered to compulsorily acquire a property which is on the register.

However, figures released to councillor Nicholas O’Keeffe show that while invoices for derelict site levies totalling €92,000 were issued in 2012, for just over €57,000 in 2013, and for almost €60,000 last year, just over €4,000 was collected in 2012, just over €14,000 in 2013, and only €3,500 was collected last year — a combined collection of just over €21,000 of the almost €210,000 that was due.

“The level of compliance in discharging of derelict sites levies can often be related to issues which ultimately resulted in the site becoming derelict — financial hardship, difficulties in financing development, legal or title difficulties, receivership, probate difficulties, etc,” said Pat Ledwidge, director of the city’s strategic, planning and economic development directorate.

Mr Ledwidge said a derelict sites review group, which has representatives from the city council’s planning, corporate affairs, law and finance sections, will look at ways of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the process with the overall aim of reducing dereliction.

“The city council is also implementing a series of pro-active measures to improve unsightly properties in the city centre, for example through the painting and building improvement grants process in selection areas,” said Mr Ledwidge.

Meanwhile, one of Cork’s most famous hotels, the Imperial, is undergoing major refurbishment to celebrate its 200-year history.

The Flynn family has already gutted and remodeled South’s bar, which is now known as 76.

The family has also revamped 57 of the hotel rooms and is adding air-conditioning to 20 of the superior rooms and the remainder of the bedrooms will be completed early next year.

“We are also opening a gym to residents with the main cardiovascular exercise machines that one would expect to have on offer,” said a spokeswoman for the hotel. “The complete refurbishment will cost in the region of €1m.”

She added that the hotel, on Cork’s South Mall, is also finalising plans for a series of 200th anniversary commemorations.

“The Flynn family want the Imperial to stand proudly as a four-star property next year when it celebrates 200 years in business,” said the spokeswoman.

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