Council to cut levies by 50%

by Ian Begley

South Dublin County Council (SDCC) has agreed to slash commercial development levies in nine local villages by 50%.
At the December council meeting, councillors unanimously agreed to adopt a new development contribution scheme for the period 2016 to 2020.
The agreed amendment was proposed by Cllr William Lavelle (FG) and Cllr Colm Brophy (FG).
The village centres included are Lucan, Palmerstown, Clondalkin, Rathcoole, Newcastle, Saggart, Tallaght, Templeogue and Rathfarnham.
The newly-adopted scheme reduces the rate of development levies for commercial development from €78 per sq m to €75 per sq m. However, in the nine villages outlined, the development levies will be reduced to €37.50 per sq m – a 50% reduction.
The proposal was made by the two councillors during the public consultation on the new draft scheme and was subsequently endorsed on November 26 by the council’s planning Strategic Policy Committee.
The scheme will take effect from January 1.
Commenting on the council’s decision, Cllr Lavelle said: “I warmly welcome the council’s approval for the proposal from Cllr Brophy and I to reduce commercial development levies in our villages. This reduction will promote and incentivise commercial development, in particular in the retail and hospitality sectors, in our traditional villages.
“Urban centres, such as Lucan village, continue to face significant challenges in terms of competition from nearby out-of-centre shopping centres.
“This move is not to discourage development at out-of-centre shopping centres, which continue to be important drivers of local economy and major hubs for local employment.
“Instead, it is clear that our traditional urban centres can sustainably co-exist alongside out-of-centre shopping centres, as both settings can contain a very different ‘retail offer’.
“Whereas shopping centres are more likely to contain units linked to commercial chains, traditional urban centres can thrive by providing a very different offer built on local-scale and niche retailing, fresh food, crafts, small offices and services, boutique coffee shops and restaurants etc,” he said.
This is a significant increase from when the council voted to reduce development levies in 2013 by 26%.
The scheme agreed a levy on non-residential development of €81.65 per sq m, reduced from the previous rate of €111, representing the reversal of a previous 2009 increase in the levy.
Earlier this year, The Gazette revealed that the council is now owed almost €22m in outstanding development levies up to 2014.
At the end of 2012, the local authority was owed €28.8m; in 2010, the sum was €37m. The lowest amount in recent years was €20.4m in 2013.
The decrease in money owed is due to levies being collected and not written off, according to the council. Some €21.8m is the cumulative amount the council is now owed.

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