The publication by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government of new Development Contribution Guidelines for Planning Authorities (the “Guidelines”) will be welcomed by developers. The main thrust of the Guidelines is the need to support economic development while promoting sustainable development patterns and securing investment in capital infrastructure.
The Guidelines provide non-statutory policy guidance on the drawing up of development contribution schemes, that both planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála must have regard to when performing their functions under the planning and development legislation. The emphasis in the Guidelines on supporting economic development reflects the changed economic environment since publication of the previous guidelines on development contributions in 2007.
The property industry has lobbied for a reduction in development contributions to a level that does not impede development. A number of local authorities have responded by amending their development contribution schemes to reduce the level of contributions or permit payment of development contributions in phases. The Guidelines seek to ensure a consistent nationwide approach to revising development contribution schemes to promote economic activity and job creation.
All planning authorities should commence a review of their existing development guidelines by 31 March 2013 to ensure compliance with the Guidelines. In advance of that date authorities are urged to ensure that unpaid contributions owed by developers in respect of existing development are collected.
Planning authorities will be required to include in their development contribution schemes various targeted reduced rates of contributions and waivers for projects such as:
- Developments in town centres;
- IDA / Enterprise Ireland / Shannon Development / Údarás na Gaeltachta supported projects;
- Developments that would progress the Government’s Jobs Initiative;
- Broadband and renewable energy infrastructure and development; and
- Change of use permissions which do not require upgraded infrastructure
The Guidelines set out the recommended methodology for planning authorities to use when preparing a development contribution scheme.