Unfinished estates face derelict sites levies

A two-year campaign to enforce the derelict sites act in Kerry’s county town is also targeting unfinished housing sites along with well-established eyesores.

A report to Tralee Town Council said levies had been slapped on developers of a number of uncompleted, boom-time, housing estates.

Under the 1990 Derelict Sites Act, all property owners are obliged to make sure buildings do not become derelict or contain any dangerous structure.

Locals councils can apply levies of 3% of the market value of any properties where owners do not take action to halt dereliction.

A council meeting heard the legislation is being rigorously applied in Tralee under a two-year project.

In the meantime, a number of unoccupied shops have been given a brand new appearance. Images of Antarctic explorer Tom Crean, in co-operation with the building’s owner, enhance the former Albany paint shop at the corner of Castle St.

At the same time, unsightly half-finished housing sites whose owners have not co-operated, are having levies imposed on them.

They include ghost estates, areas where boundary walls are not completed and sites strewn with rubbish.

The meeting, this week, of Tralee Town Council took place at the Institute of Technology. It heard the number of derelict buildings would be threefold had the council not moved to enforce the legislation.

“Even basic cleaning does a huge amount,” town clerk Michael Scannell said.

He also paid tribute to those who maintained their buildings without warning notices being served.

It emerged levies will remain on a property, regardless of ownership. Outstanding levies would, in due course, have to be paid to the council.

“It’s not a money-raising effort for the council but a carrot and stick affair — to encourage the upkeep of buildings,” Mr Scannell said.

The associated dangerous building legislation, he said, would be applied where roofs or certain structures posed a risk to the public.

Tralee, for the first time, had achieved a gold medal in last month’s national Tidy Towns Competition.

Mr Scannell said a good share of the success was due to the planner Victoria McCarthy who had taken on the work of targeting derelict sites. Councillors and officials paid tribute to her work in negotiating with owners.

Cllr Terry O’Brien said the public were not always aware of the existence of the Act and had a right to know they did not have to put up with unsightly buildings or areas.

“A good share of the Tidy Town success was due to making sites presentable. These are fine buildings outside, but are rotting inside. It is very important the council apply the act whether Nama owns the sites or not,” he said, calling for greater public awareness of the legislation.

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