The owners of several derelict buildings along Cork’s historic spine owe the city €84,000 in derelict sites levies.
Confirmation of the derelict site levies (DSL) invoiced on the O’Connor brothers for the six derelict sites they own on North Main St and on Barrack St comes as stabilisation works continue on their North Main St properties almost three weeks after the partial collapse of number 63.
David O’Connor is listed on the city’s derelict sites register as a co-owner, in various combinations with his brothers Padraig and Brian, of 62 to 65 North Main St.
He is listed as the owner of two adjoining properties at 118 and 119 Barrack St. The properties have been registered derelict since 2015.
Stabilisation works started this week on 62, 63 and 64 North Main St following a partial collapse to the rear of 63 almost three weeks’ ago.
The Irish Examiner has established that the council invoiced the owners of 62 to 65 some €65,000 in DSLs between 2016 to 2019, and €19,000 in DSLs in relation to the Barrack St properties in the same time period.
A spokesperson for the council said its planning department is now working with its legal department to “progress the matter of derelict sites levies through the courts”.
Mr O’Connor said he would not be making any further comment on the various issues linked to the various properties.
The O’Connors have been told that the facade of 63 North Main St must be stabilised, and that key elements of 62 and 64 must also be stabilised to ensure further collapse risk is eliminated.
The work was cleared to start on Tuesday but city officials said given the uncertainty over what may be discovered during this process, that they can’t give precise timeframes for when the work will be finished.
Councillors have also been told that the total value of DSLs on the 100 registered derelict sites is in the order of €624,300 and that €43,500 in levies was collected last year.
The derelict sites levy is based on 3% of the market value of a property. It is due to increase to 7% next year.
But councillors said local authorities should make greater use of existing powers to tackle dereliction. They also called for tougher national legislation to strengthen their hand in addressing the issue.
In a statement, the council said the use of derelict sites legislation has become more prominent over the last number of years.
“In 2012, there were eight sites on the derelict sites register. We now have 100 sites on it,” it said.
“There are many issues at play that lead to challenges in collecting levies on these sites.
A number of other properties/ sites on the register can be former family homes, there are financial and emotional constraints to the renovation of these sites.
“Other sites may have Nama loans, owners are in receivership, and the ability to pay the levy can be limited.”
“Also, there can be title issues with the land which can be ongoing for several years.
“Also there are issues with identifying ownership of sites, which can be a complicated process, owner engagement in relation to sites can be limited.
“However, we always try to work with the owners of sites, or track down owners to ascertain what plans are in place for renovation or the removal of dereliction.
“The derelict sites legislation is not particularly robust when it comes to provisions of revenue collection.“However, this legislation has been used by the city council to CPO properties/sites and subsequently sell on the open market with a clear provision to remove dereliction within a time frame.”