Wednesday 30 April 2008

Proposed levies on Clare homes highly unlikely

CONTENTIOUS proposals to increase levies by 400% on new homes on zoned land in Clare appeared doomed yesterday.

Elected members criticised the county council's draft developer contribution scheme: 2008-11.

Cllr Martin Conway (Fine Gael) claimed the new charges were totally unrealistic in the light of a current downturn in the housing market.

Cllr Brian Meaney (Green) said the timing of the new contribution scheme should have been put in place 10 years ago at the start of the "bunding boom".

Cllr Tony O'Brien (Fianna Fail) warned it would be counter-productive to introduce new charges. Currently, housebuilders constructing homes on unzoned land pay EUR4,180, but under the council's proposed scheme, the development levy would more than double to EUR12,456. Those seeking to build holiday homes are facing a 300% increase in levies, going up from EUR9,500 to EUR27,050 per home.

The levies are imposed on builders to finance water, sewerage, road and community infrastructure and must be paid before houses are occupied.

In the past four years, the council has raised EUR34 million from the scheme. However, the target for the revised scheme is EUR101m. Only EUR18m of the EUR3 4m generated has so far been spent.

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF), said the scheme was unjustifiable and unsustainable.

CIF spokesman Conor O'Connell claimed the increase would add 8% to house prices in Co Clare.

"The council is asking the first time buyer to meet the cost of infrastructure in Clare yet the investment will benefit everyone," he said.

Gordon Deegan
Irish Examiner

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