Council supports plans for levy on derelict buildings

Market Place. INCT 32-047-tc
Market Place. INCT 32-047-tc

Owners of derelict buildings in Mid and East Antrim could be forced to pay a levy under new plans being considered by the Department of Finance.

Mid and East Antrim councillors were informed of the department’s intention to collect information on derelict or idle sites and buildings with a view to implementing a potential charge at a meeting of the council’s Policy and Resources Committee on Tuesday June 21.

A report presented to the committee stated that after the recent review of non-domestic rates, “considerable support” had been expressed for the imposition of a levy on derelict or idle land and buildings.

DFP is now seeking Council’s help to identify privately-owned derelict land and buildings which have been lying vacant for some time, have a detrimental effect on the area, and may be inhibiting regeneration.

The council had already responded to a DOE consultation on the issue by calling for a new Assembly Bill which would provide a new, broader enforcement regime.

At the meeting on June 21, the committee agreed to endorse the provision of the relevant information to DFP in relation to derelict or idle sites in Mid and East Antrim.

Owner of Ollie’s Coffee Shop Cheryl Watson, whose business is based at Market Place, described the plans to implement a charge on derelict buildings as “long overdue.”

“It’s a good idea as there are quite a lot of derelict buildings in Carrick, especially in West Street where there are very few businesses open,” she commented.

“They have had a tiny bit of work done and have been painted but they are still not great looking.

“I have had people asking me where the shops and things are.

“The painted facades which were put in place in the past don’t go far enough.

“The derelict sites bring down trade and footfall for the other shops.

“A levy could help with the regeneration of Carrickfergus.”