New Draft Development Contribution Guidelines
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan, T.D., and the Minister for Housing and Planning, Jan O’Sullivan, T.D., today (27 June) published draft guidelines for planning authorities on development contributions. The publication marks the start of an 11 week public consultation phase during which all stakeholders and members of the public are invited to submit their views on the draft. Following consideration of the submissions received final guidelines will be issued under section 28 of the Planning and Development Acts 2000 – 2010.
Speaking at the publication of draft guidelines Minister Hogan said that “Local authorities are making a significant contribution to Ireland’s economic recovery, by helping to improve the environment in which businesses thrive through their planning and economic development functions. Development contributions are a central instrument in the funding of essential physical and social infrastructure, in supporting the implementation of local authority development plans, improving the quality and competitiveness of each local authority area, and in influencing investment decisions.”
The statutory framework for development contribution schemes has been in place since 2000. Since then they have assisted in the delivery of much needed investment in essential infrastructure along with central exchequer and local authority own resources. However, there is a recognition that previous suites of schemes were prepared in a very different time. The economic landscape has been significantly altered.
Minister O’Sullivan said, “A key aim for future development contribution schemes must be to promote sustainable development, secure investment in capital infrastructure and encourage jobs and growth. I am confident that the new guidance – which is both pro-planning and pro-jobs – will enable local authorities to achieve the right balance into the future between generating the revenues required to provide the necessary infrastructure associated with new development and creating the right conditions to support sustainable development patterns, economic activity and renewal”.
Key features in the new guidance include:
• A requirement for planning authorities to put in place reduced rates of development contributions or waivers for development in town centres to support town centre development;
• change-of-use permissions, where change-of use does not lead to the need for new or upgraded infrastructure / services;
• businesses grant-aided or supported by IDA/Enterprise Ireland or other local authority or state supported local development agencies, as well as reduced rates for developments that would progress the Government’s Jobs Initiative;
• broadband provision and sustainable energy infrastructure
• protected structures
• Recommended use of lower rates in areas prioritised for development in the core strategy
• A flexible approach to phasing of payment of development contributions (subject to formal agreement between developer and planning authority).
• A consistent step-by-step methodology for use by all planning authorities in the preparation of new schemes to ensure consistency of approach.
“These draft guidelines are focused on good planning, promoting jobs and securing investment. I encourage everyone with an interest in local and regional development to make their views known as final guidelines will be published in the early autumn,” concluded Minister O’Sullivan.
The public consultation period runs until Friday 7 September. The draft guidelines are available at www.environ.ie/en/DevelopmentHousing/PlanningDevelopment/Planning/PublicConsultations/
Comment: At this point operators will have made their submissions to the Department. The submissions are now being considered and new Guidance should be issued towards the end of this year with Local Authorities expected to amend their schemes within a short timeframe thereafter. Some Local Authorities have taken the pre-emptive step of revising their Development Contribution Scheme earlier this year in anticipation of forced policy change in this area. For example North Tipperary County Council DCS has been revised from the levying of €10,000 per antenna under the 2011 scheme to €2500 per antenna under the 2012 scheme. Furthermore, a series of exemptions and reductions are built into the 2012 scheme such that, under certain circumstances a full or partial waiver on the reduced sum is available.
Under the right circumstances operators may be best advised to delay lodging applications under the old schemes to benefit from reduced or nil contributions under the new contribution schemes. There is also the scope for withdrawing applications currently being processed under old development contribution schemes and re-lodging the same application under the new development contribution scheme where the new scheme offers potential savings.