FINGAL COUNTY Council has agreed to slash development levies by more than a quarter in a bid to stimulate construction in the county.
The levies paid by developers and home builders to the council are set for a dramatic fall from January 1 next year when the rate of levy will be cut by some 26.6%. There was a mixed response to the news from councillors who ultimately voted overwhelmingly in favour of the move but not without reservation.
A number of councillors complained that the new rate would not apply to existing planning permissions that have not started construction and while council officials said they were sympathetic to those applicants, legislation did not allow them to apply the new rate retrospectively. Cllr Anne Devitt (NP) said that she understood the council was confident it would be able to apply the new rate to existing permissions and said she was ' mortally embarrassed' because she had given assurances to people on that basis. Cllr Peter Coyle ( Lab), Cllr Anthony Lavin (FG) and Cllr David O'Connor (NP) shared some of Cllr Devitt's concerns.
But Cllr Matthew Waine (SP) was strongly opposed to a reduction in the levies and said the move 'amounts to a hand-out for builders and another bail out to try to encourage them to develop land in the county'. He said the reduction came at a time when ordinary householders were being asked to pay more and said that the local authority had a 'carrot and stick' approach to developers and householders with developers getting the 'carrot' and householders getting the 'stick'. Cllr Joan Maher (FG) said that Cllr Waine 'doesn't have a clue how this county works' and said that the council had to encourage development in the county or it would not be able to provide services for its citizens.
Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Cian O'Callaghan (Lab) sad that development levies were a key component of how infrastructure would be funded in the county into the future and he supported the reduction which was ultimately approved by a vote of 19 to three in favour. Only the three Socialist Party councillors voted against the move.