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Vacant site levy: Large housebuilders among those seeking exemptions on valuable development lands

Companies making submissions to Kildare County Council about unused lands in the Dublin commuter belt

Large housebuilders are seeking tax exemptions on some of the most valuable development sites in the Dublin commuter belt, telling Kildare County Council their land should be delisted from the new charge on vacant property.

Companies making submissions to the council include stock market-listed groups Cairn and Glenveagh, the Westar vehicle of the Clane-based family of Patrick Fadden, firms run by Co Kilkenny developer Michael Raggett and Dublin groups Kelland Homes and Carroll Estates.

Submissions to the council relate to development sites in locations such Maynooth, Clane, Naas, Newbridge, Athy, Celbridge and Leixlip and other locations in the county.

The Government introduced the residential zoned land tax in an attempt to spur housebuilding on vacant sites. By imposing the annual charge on unused property with residential zoning, Ministers hoped to encourage owners to build homes instead of allowing such land lie dormant.


Property owners were given an opportunity to dispute their inclusion on draft tax maps, which are to be updated in April and finalised by December before the tax comes into force in 2024.

The submissions to Kildare council include a demand for exemption from US billionaire John Malone, who says residential land used as a paddocks by the stud on his Castlemartin estate should be delisted.

Cairn made five submissions in relation to lands around Maynooth. One said land at Moyglare Road “did not have access to public infrastructure” for wastewater treatment. Two said construction started in 2022 on sites at Dunboyne Road and Mariavilla. Another two said construction of separate lands at Mariavilla was completed in 2019 in 2022. A sixth Cairn submission said no archaeological assessment had carried out on lands at Leixlip Gate.

Glenveagh sought an exemption for land at Oldtown, Celbridge, saying it was out of scope because wastewater network upgrades were needed. Another Glenveagh submission – made for the owners of land at Leixlip Demesne – said development was subject to a new road junction being built.

Westar as its affiliate Le Monde Holdings made six submissions. One said building was already under way on land at Clane, with the conclusion of legal challenges awaited on remaining site lands. Another submission said land at Naas West was not currently connected to a suitable road network.

A third said land at Finlay Park, Naas, was “not currently connected to or able to be connected to suitable water supply of sufficient service capacity”. A fourth said other Finlay Park land was part of “existing public open space areas”. Similarly, a fifth submission said land adjoining Abbeylands Shopping Centre and Abbeylands Avenue apartments was part of public open space.

Le Monde Holdings said its Clane lands were part of existing public and private open space at the Esmonde Avenue and Aughamore housing developments.

Mr Raggett of Raggett Homes made submissions as a director of individual companies in the business. His Bluetrack submission said land at Leinster Street, Athy, should be exempt because it did not have adequate road or footpath access.

Mr Raggett made a separate submission for a company called Sidbury, saying property at Tomard, Athy, should be excluded because it included land at a railway exclusion zone. For a company called Athy Clonmullion Development, Mr Raggett sought exemptions for land at Geraldine Road, Athy, because of sewer capacity issues.

Kelland, based in Tallaght, made a submission in relation to a 15-hectare land holding on the Kildare/Wicklow border at Newtownpark and Newtown Little, Blessington. “We consider that the subject lands should not be liable to the RZLT due to the lack of necessary roads infrastructure required to serve any residential development of the subject lands.”

Avoca Homes, whose directors are Fergal Feeney of Sandycove and Michael Dunne of Maynooth, said lands at Louisa Park, Leixlip, did not have “appropriate access to public infrastructure” and so should be exempt.

Crodaun Development Company, whose directors are Liam Eves of Kilcock and Brian Magee of Celbridge, sought exemptions for 12.9 hectares of land at Crodaun, Celbridge, because planning permission was “effectively annulled” after judicial review proceedings.

Benduff Ireland, whose directors are Nayomi Duff-McEleney and Steven McEleney of Lucab, said lands at Hillford House, Leixlip, should be exempt because the company was actively seeking permission for the redevelopment after an earlier application was refused.

Carroll Estates said its property at Green Road, Newbridge, should be exempt because construction “has commenced on site”.

Masonbrook, whose directors are Pat Barrett of Johnstown and David Barrett of Ballymore Eustace, sought exemptions for land at Ferns Bridge, Monasterevin, because it was “currently delivering housing” there and was precluded from applying for permission on the remainder of its Monasterevin lands.

Separately, Masonbrook sought exemptions for property at Brocan Wood, Monasterevin, because all the permitted dwellings had been built.

Andrews Construction of Mullingar made a submission for different reasons in relation to two parcels of land in the planning process, at Celbridge Lodge and Sallins Road in Naas. The company also cited land at Athgarvan, saying the property provided a “village extension” opportunity.

The Andrews submission referred to an invitation to “identify additional land which may fall into scope”, stating the company had identified and confirmed “land not currently on the draft map and which our submission recommends that should be considered in scope for the tax”.

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times