One-size-fits-all sys­tem of com­mer­cial levies is chok­ing de­vel­op­ment

Irish Independent - Business Week - - COMMERCIAL PROPERTY - Paul McNeive info@paulm­c­

sub- divi­sion in the com­mer­cial/in­dus­trial cat­e­gory in the sec­tion 48 scheme, means that an of­fice de­vel­op­ment, with a high build cost and high in­ten­sity of use, at­tracts the same de­vel­op­ment con­tri­bu­tions as a ware­house of the same size, with a low build cost, low em­ploy­ment and low in­ten­sity of use on roads and drainage. Mr Lon­er­gan ar­gues that this is not jus­ti­fi­able, eq­ui­table, or log­i­cal.

He also pointed out that there are enor­mous dif­fer­ences be­tween the de­vel­op­ment con­tri­bu­tion rates adopted by the four Dublin au­thor­i­ties and, for example, neigh­bour­ing County Meath. It was noted that the de­vel­op­ment con­tri­bu­tion for U Store It’s orig­i­nal ware­house, on an al­ready ser­viced site, was only €40,000 less than the con­tri­bu­tions charged to Face­book for its €200m data cen­tre de­vel­op­ment on a green­field site in Clonee, Co Meath. The de­vel­op­ment con­tri­bu­tion rate in Co Meath is only €11 per sq m.

U Store It lost the ap­peal, es­sen­tially on the grounds that the levies had been cor­rectly ap­plied. How­ever, the in­spec­tor’s re­port said that Sea­mus’s case had “con­sid­er­able merit,” par­tic­u­larly in re­gard to his as­ser­tion that there should be fur­ther dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion of uses, based on the cost of de­vel­op­ment and the in­ten­sity of use.

I agree that U Store It’s case has a lot of merit and the cur­rent sys­tem is too much of a ‘ blunt in­stru­ment’ whereby the de­vel­op­ment con­tri­bu­tions are at sim­i­lar rates, whether you are build­ing a ware­house in Tal­laght, an of­fice block in dock­lands or a shop­ping cen­tre in Dun­drum.

The plan­ning ap­peal also points out that a Deloitte re­port to the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties on adopt­ing the scheme, sug­gested that de­vel­op­ment con­tri­bu­tions should be ap­prox­i­mately 3pc of de­vel­op­ment cost, but that they are closer to 20pc in the ap­peal case,

Sea­mus told me that he is con­sid­er­ing seek­ing a ju­di­cial re­view in the mat­ter. He also stated in his ap­peal that he had con­tacted sev­eral SDCC coun­cil­lors about the is­sue and that they were all sur­prised to hear that there is no dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion be­tween types of de­vel­op­ment — de­spite hav­ing voted through the adop­tion of the scheme. Sea­mus Lon­er­gan sug­gests that coun­cil­lors are not prop­erly briefed on these mat­ters.

I of­fered SDCC an op­por­tu­nity to com­ment but no re­sponse was forth­com­ing. I also heard re­cently from char­tered build­ing sur­veyor Krystyna Raw­icz, alert­ing me to a par­tic­u­larly se­vere out­break of Ja­panese knotweed in the Le­in­ster area. Krystyna told me that she has en­coun­tered this deadly plant on three sites this year, which is un­prece­dented in her ex­pe­ri­ence. Ja­panese knotweed is an al­most in­de­struc­tible growth that can dam­age walls and foun­da­tions. Prop­erty own­ers can also be li­able for dam­ages if they al­low it to spread from their prop­erty onto a neigh­bour’s.

Attempts to dig it out, or us­ing the wrong poi­sons, can make it worse, and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in the south- east have posted no­tices warn­ing peo­ple not to at­tempt this. The best ad­vice is to seek ex­pert help im­me­di­ately.

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