Wednesday 26 October 2016

Council levies hampering the building of much-needed houses

Published 02/05/2016 | 02:30

New houses are urgently needed
New houses are urgently needed

In all the talk about housing, the cost of building is never mentioned. Yes, builders are sitting on land waiting for prices to rise. But in south county Dublin, all along the Luas lines and the M50, there are hundreds of acres of land with planning permission for thousands of houses. I can assure you, these landowners want to build.

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But Dun Laoghaire Rathdown council struck a levy in 2008 of €70,000 per unit to build a new road from Kilternan to the roundabout at Carrickmines retail park. This was costed at €143m, yet the plan for that road is now abolished and replaced with a smaller, much cheaper road where the ESB cables will go underground.

A quote for that was requested last September and there was a meeting in December and March. Still no costings. The landowners have offered the land for the road, in some cases for nothing, and some at a reduced rate.

There have been letters, meetings with architects, planning consultants and builders, all to no avail. The council has left the levy in place.

The Central Bank is under the impression that a house can be built for €220,000, with no account taken for the levy (€70,000 per unit) and 13.5pc VAT.

In some cases, the planning has withered and this has cost time and money, but is never mentioned. The Central Bank is so removed from the cost of building, even though they talk about keeping house prices down.

Who are these people sitting on land? It costs a lot of money to get planning, who can afford to sit on it? There are many landowners in this area ready to build but can't.

It is a total scandal this situation is allowed to continue.

Mary Berry

Carrickmines, Dublin 18

Beware of electoral groupthink

As someone who straddles "old Ireland" (slightly, I hasten to add) and "modern, liberal" Ireland, the incredible vote received by Ronan Mullen in the Senate elections is a cause of some satisfaction.

While it is definitely true that the "old Ireland" had many faults, the self-satisfied smugness of "modern, liberal Ireland" has become increasingly irritating and annoying. Cheap, uncontextualised sneering at the past has become a virtual cottage industry among the liberal commentariat.

We have been subjected to much of this drivel during the recent 1916 reflections where, for instance, the deep faith of many of the leaders (including the great James Connolly) has been conveniently airbrushed out of the contemporary narratives. It was reminiscent of Stalinist revisionism, where inconvenient truths were similarly erased from "official" history.

While one wishes well to those who campaigned for last year's same-sex marriage referendum, the degree of arrogant triumphalism displayed at the time (and continued to be displayed in much media commentary) far surpasses anything associated with the "old Ireland".

The vote for Senator Mullen, in my opinion, is a small, though welcome, reminder that not all people are comfortable with the uncritical groupthink which has emerged in Ireland in recent times.

Eric Conway

Navan, Co Meath

Ignoring votes for change

The Taoiseach will shortly announce his 11 nominees for the Seanad. Of those, he is expected to select members of Fine Gael who were rejected by the electorate.

Why can't our Taoiseach select new professional faces rather than "old" failed politicians? Where is our new politics?

Damien Carroll

Kingswood, Dublin 24

In the recent election, we voted for change. Yet, we learn that Katherine Zappone is maximising her Dáil expenses and Paul Murphy is availing of free legal aid. Sadly, neither of these deputies seems to have a problem taking money from the taxpayer. Can they honestly claim to be in such financial distress?

In contrast, Enda Kenny did not accept his teacher's superannuation of €100,000 and took a salary cut of 30pc on his Taoiseach's salary. So we voted for change...change for the worse.

Sheila Brennan

Coolcullen, Co Carlow

Luas drivers push and pull

With reference to your article by Alan O'Keeffe (April 29) in which Luas drivers claim to be demonised, I completely agree with the driver Eileen Carolan. Luas drivers do far more than push a lever - they also pull it.

Jim Lineen

Cork City

Paying for politics

As a taxpayer of this country, I object vehemently to the news that I as a taxpayer am being forced to finance the Anti-Austerity Alliance Party, a party I might add, I did not vote for in any election. The decision to grant Paul Murphy TD free legal aid is equivalent to handing a cheque from the taxpayers to his party as the decision to give up most of his salary to that party was a personal decision and should be viewed as such.

I'm sure Revenue views all his TD salary as income and taxes Mr Murphy accordingly, so why should the judiciary see it any differently?

Murphy once again tries to have it both ways, by saying he is on a low income but also expecting hard-pressed taxpayers to fund his own party.

To follow that logic, would Murphy be entitled to social welfare payments, medical card or a council house if he gave the rest away?

Eugene McGuinness


Importance of funding water

I voted for Fine Gael and Independents in the election. I am not a Labour supporter. But as a Dublin man living in the west of Ireland, I can see the importance of paying for water.

I have been in a group water scheme for the last 12 years. The quality of the water is always excellent because we pay for it. Before it was paid for down here, the fields used to be full of water in areas all around the parish, through leaking hoses that were used to water livestock. Within a matter of weeks of meters being brought in, all those leaking pipes were fixed. Why? Because people were made responsible for the water they use.

The whole idea about Irish Water being a dealbreaker or red-line issue is populist crap from the kings of popularity, FF, not to mention SF.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly, in his speech to the Dáil about the suspension or scrapping of Irish Water, was the best in honesty from a TD to date. It's a pity that Labour did not speak out with such passion in the run-up to the election, or things might have been different.

But let's ignore the truth and celebrate this as a victory for the people of Ireland.

Anthony Malone

Tuam, Co Galway

Irish Independent

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