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Councillor calls for a hard line to be taken on owners of derelict sites

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Councillor calls for a hard line to be taken on owners of derelict sites thumbnailCllr Tony McCormack.

A FIANNA FAIL councillor has called for the Council to take a hard line on those responsible for allowing their premises to fall into dereliction.

Councillor Tony McCormack was speaking at last Thursday's Tullamore Municipal District where he described these buildings as an ''eyesore''. ''They are pulling down the town,'' he said.

He was reacting to Offaly County Council planner Mr Ed Kelly who told councillors there are three options open to the council. They can direct the owners to take action. If they refuse the council can impose a three to ten per cent levy annually. Mr Kelly said the council want to avoid this where possible as he said it can be counter productive as if someone wants to develop the site the levy has to be paid first which could be substantial.

The next option is to CPO or compulsory purchase the premises.

However, he felt the best option was to ask the owners to do something about their buildings. ''It has been successful in a number of cases,'' he said.

Councillor Dervill Dolan agreed with Cllr McCormack. ''We have a situation where people have been written to and they have ignored it. We have a situation in Clara where the square is being developed but there are a number of derelict sites there.''

He said it was an issue for everyone not just the planning department. He suggested that the Council buy some of these properties and do them up. ''A levy is something that can be ignored,'' he added.

''We are on a merry-go-round,'' said Councillor Tommy McKeigue. '' We have a housing crisis in the country yet you have derelict houses there that could be pulled down and new houses put in. Every street in the town has derelict houses. ''

Cllr McKeigue went on to say he had received a commitment from someone to do up their premises but they had done nothing.

''That was the carrot approach now the stick,'' he added.

Councillor Danny Owens said it was an area ''we have to deal with. I can't see a levy working. Most people will give a reason for not paying.'' he said.

Councillor Frank Moran said the presence of derelict houses was ''very disheartening'' for Tidy Towns groups. He asked for creative solutions.

Cllr Brendan Killeavy said he would like to see more action being taken. ''I think we should target town centre houses. A levy is not nice but we need to do something.''

Cllr Declan Harvey said ''derelict sites are still valuable. People could be forced or encouraged to sell. Prices are going up and some might only take two weeks to sell.''

Mr Ed Kelly said he would bring the suggestions to the planing department. He said compulsory purchase of these properties does seem to be the answer.

''It does take up a lot of time and it can be hard to locate the owners. Our preference is for the owners to do up their property,'' he said

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