The Argus - - NEWS -

LOUTH county coun­cil is owed €6.5 mil­lion in un­paid levies from de­vel­op­ers, it emerges at a meet­ing of the lo­cal au­thor­ity.

Cllr Tomás Sharkey says he is sym­pa­thetic to those who owe money, and the over­all amount of €6,452,924 at the end of Novem­ber is an il­lus­tra­tion of how many peo­ple are fac­ing fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties.

Se­nior ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Joan Martin notes a sur­pris­ing amount of the money owed is from one-off houses.

Ms. Martin adds the fig­ure in ques­tion is on de­vel­op­ments un­der con­struc­tion as op­posed to those for which per­mis­sion is granted but con­struc­tion has not com­menced.

She ex­plains that where de­vel­op­ment levies re­main out­stand­ing from one year to the next, the amount due is in line with the whole­sale price in­dex for the con­struc­tion in­dus­try.

Un­paid levies are deemed a breach of the con­di­tions of plan­ning per­mis­sion, and are vig­or­ously fol­lowed up as plan­ning en­force­ment cases un­der the Plan­ning and De­vel­op­ment Act 2000. FINE Gael leader John Bru­ton moots de­vel­op­ing Dundalk into a city and should it come about there would be sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits for the area.

He points out Dundalk fits the bill for city des­ig­na­tion and adds that his party in its re­cently pub­lished dis­cus­sion doc­u­ment on hous­ing ar­gues that the gov­ern­ment should de­cide that it will de­velop at least three ex­ist­ing medium-sized towns into cities to re­lieve the pres­sure on Dublin.

‘We be­lieve the gov­ern­ment should in­vite lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to bid for city des­ig­na­tion, on the ba­sis of re­ceiv­ing sub­stan­tial in­fras­truc­tural, in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment and de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion ben­e­fits.

‘I think one of these three new cities, with lo­cal sup­port, could be Dundalk.’

Mr Bru­ton adds the con­tin­ued growth of the Dublin re­gion is un­sus­tain­able and if there is a se­ri­ous in­ten­tion to stop the ur­ban sprawl it is es­sen­tial that spe­cial em­pha­sis be put on de­vel­op­ment within smaller pop­u­la­tion cen­tres like Dundalk.

The main op­po­si­tion party leader, in the Bal­ly­mas­can­lon Ho­tel, urges the cham­ber of com­merce to con­sider lead­ing a study of this idea as Dundalk has ex­cel­lent rail links, is equidis­tant from the two ma­jor cities on the is­land.

Re­tir­ing prin­ci­pal Mary O’Rourke with pupils who made pre­sen­ta­tions to her at the re­tire­ment pre­sen­ta­tion func­tion held in the Fri­ary In­fants Na­tional School in De­cem­ber 2003.

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