Derelict sites coming back to the fore of attention for council

Mayo County Council is working its way through a review of the council's Derelict Sites Register since earlier this year and, according to council officials, the issue of derelict sites and getting them cleaned up and sorted is "coming back much more on the agenda".

Director of services for Mayo County Council, Tom Gilligan, this week gave a report to the elected members on the progress they have made so far. "We've made contact with a  number of owners who've done work in relation to improving their sites, allowing us to take them off the register," he said. "The work is ongoing, to date we've in the region of 100 sites dotted around the county." He went on to explain: "Particular issues coming up after the recession is ownership, as that could have changed hands a few time since the recession."

He also went on to say that the council had applied an annual levy on the market value of 23 sites in the county and they are in the process of issuing the 2015 demand on them. Cllr Michael Kilcoyne asked how much the council had collected in these levies, he was told that so far in 2015 they had collected €1,800, and in 2014 just under €1,000.

Chief executive of Mayo County Council, Peter Hynes, also spoke on the issue and said that the council had been very proactive in the past since the legislation was introduced and it was something they were going to put a major effort into in the future. He told the meeting: "This legislation came in 1990. Mayo is one of the counties that has made most use of the legislation since then. When we registered first, we registered over 300 sites. We've dealt with sites in Crossmolina, Killala, Newport, and Ballinrobe and elswhere.

"It's not that we haven't prioritised derelict sites. Westport, Ballina, and Castlebar were dealt with by the urban/town councils, Westport had half a dozen derelict sites when that legislation came in. My point is in the last four or five years have been very much a balancing act between trying to work with people who were sitting on derlicit sites because they didn't want to do anything with them, and those who were trying to keep the wolf from the door because they couldn't do anything else; it is a balancing act.

"Right now, the message that needs to go out is that derelict sites are coming back much more on the agenda, and the need for housing sites, the need for infill and the need to get people back in our towns and villages, and keep life going in our towns and villages, all points in one direction. It's about progressing and refreshing our derelict sites list in tandem with our housing programme."

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