Under the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015, each local authority has to compile a register of lands in its area that are suitable for housing but are not coming forward for development. On January 1st 2017, a Vacant Site Register was established for Co. Westmeath. A vacant site levy will be charged for lands contained on this register from January 2019 onwards.
The Urban Regeneration and Housing Act contains a detailed definition of what constitutes a vacant site. In very general terms, this includes any land where:
In the case of residential land, there is a need for housing in the area, the site is suitable for housing and the majority of the site has not been in use (i.e. vacant) for an extended period of time.
In the case of regeneration land, the majority of the site has not been in use (i.e. vacant) for an extended period of time and where the fact that the site being vacant is having a negative impact on existing amenities or on the character of the area.
As the Register was only established on January 1st 2017, it is not presently populated with any vacant sites. Westmeath County Council is presently engaging in a detailed assessment of all potential vacant sites in the County. This assessment will involve correspondence with the relevant landowners at various stages throughout the review process.
As set out in Sections 6 and 8 of the Urban and Regeneration Housing Act 2015, each vacant site placed on the Register will include the following information: