MORE than one out of every 20 houses in the Limavady Borough is vacant, one of the highest domestic property vacancy rates in Northern Ireland, the Sentinel can reveal.
With the local council launching a number of initiatives to tackle dereliction across the Borough, Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has released figures showing the number of ‘vacant’ homes in the Borough.
Just last week, the Sentinel revealed Limavady Borough Council’s plans to tackle dereliction across the Roe Valley – including a ‘Restore’ Masterplan for the town centre and a bid for funding to tackle the ‘blight’ of derelict buildings in Dungiven.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s Finance Minister had been asked to “detail the number of empty domestic properties in each constituency that are currently on the Capital Valuation List” by a North Down MLA.
The figures released by Finance Minister Sammy Wilson show the total number of domestic properties in each district council area. In Limavady, more than five per cent of all homes were listed as ‘vacant’, which was one of the highest domestic property vacancy rates in Northern Ireland.
There were 701 domestic properties recorded as vacant in the Limavady Borough, out of a total 13,077 domestic properties on the Capital Valuation List.
In a report presented to councillors last week, Limavady’s Director of Development Services Valerie Richmond pointed out the steps being taken to address dereliction across the Borough.
In her monthly development services report, she wrote: “Limavady Borough has been blighted by two main areas of dereliction – spaces within the main town of Limavady itself, and the town of Dungiven.”
Referring specifically to Dungiven, she notes: “The vacant and derelict properties have been identified as a key issue as part of the village regeneration. Around 25 per cent of the Main Street is now either lying derelict or has been knocked down.
“This causes significant gaps and spin-off problems. These include a turn-off factor for those visiting the town; increased levels of anti-social behaviour; lack of investment in the town; lack of civic pride.”
According to the figures released by Northern Ireland’s Finance Minister, 5.36 per cent of all domestic properties on the Capital Valuation List in the Limavady Borough are ‘vacant’ – one of the highest rates in Northern Ireland.
Limavady does compare favourably to some areas, however, where an even higher percentage of domestic properties were recorded as ‘vacant’. For instance, in the Fermanagh District Council area almost one in ten houses were listed as being ‘vacant’.
“Other areas, such as the Mid-Ulster council area of Dungannon and South Tyrone, also had a higher domestic property vacancy rate than Limavady, according to Mr Wilson’s figures.
Across Northern Ireland, there are 768,832 domestic properties on the Capital Valuation List, 34,477 of which were listed as ‘vacant’.
Mr Wilson had been asked to provide the figures by North Down MLA Peter Weir, although he had asked for the number of vacant properties to be broken down by parliamentary constituency area rather than district council area.
Sammy Wilson replied: “Information on the number of empty domestic properties in each constituency that are currently on the Capital Valuation List is not available as data is collated at District Council and Ward level only.
“There is no requirement for ratepayers to inform Land and Property Services that their property is vacant. Rate liability is assessed at 100 per cent for vacant properties, subject to any exemptions.”
He added that the figures show “the number of domestic properties in each District Council Area that are currently (as at December 31, 2012) recorded as being vacant.”