Dublin City Councillor, Paul McAuliffe has called for city officials and Government Ministers to introduce a new ‘Hoarding Tax’ in the forthcoming budget. The tax would see banks and developers who have left unsightly wooden hoardings around their sites paying a fee for every square foot which they leave erected for more than six months after construction ends.

Explaining the proposal the Fianna Fáil Councillor said “wooden hoardings are often used during the construction of a project and that is understandable but leaving sites for more than five years with rotten and ugly fencing is not acceptable. “

“If landowners had suggested erecting this kind of boundary in their planning application, it would be rejected, so I don’t see why we have to accept it being left for years on end. Developers, receivers and banks who own these sites cannot leave them in their current condition. In order to force them to erect more appropriate boundary fencing, I believe we have to introduce a financial penalty in the form of a hoarding tax.” said McAuliffe

McAuliffe’s proposal comes as the City Council reviews the Derelict Sites Register which it currently operates. A report issued to Councillors indicates that ‘a multi disciplinary project team has been established under the Brownfield Site Initiative to tackle the systematic issues underlying vacant, undeveloped and derelict sites. It is expected that this team will recommend minimum standards for the appearance of vacant property and optimise the use of urban land and infrastructure’. (full report below)

TEMPORARY GREEN SPACES

There is also the potential to work with willing landowners to temporarily use these sites as green spaces in the city. While a hoarding tax may act as a stick, we can also incentivise developers who are willing to temporarily open up their sites by offsetting possible costs against future development levies.

There are currently 34 sites in Dublin City on the Derelict Sites Register and levies outstanding amount to €1.2M. For a site to be included on the derelict sites register its needs to be in a considerably bad state but there are many sites which avoid the register by simply securing the boundary. Landowners have their rights but they also have responsibilities. I believe  a hoarding tax is the way to enforce that.