Councils may pursue householders for levies unpaid by developers
Local authorities are examining development schemes to see if almost €300 million in unpaid levies can be passed on to householders.
The move follows the revelation that Wicklow County Council is pursuing homeowners near Avoca for sums of up to €4,800 after the developer failed to pay.
While the move has caused distress to householders, many of whom question the validity of the move, Wicklow County Council has proven successful at recouping outstanding levies.
A recent audit by chief planner Des O’Brien revealed 98 per cent of all levies due in the last 10 years had been paid, leaving an outstanding amount of €2.5million.
Yesterday Mr O’Brien said the council was pursuing householders and developers for the outstanding contributions.
Levies imposed as a condition of planning permission are generally required to be paid before construction work begins, or at least on a phased basis, with a significant up-front payment.
Wicklow council used to inspect each site to ascertain if construction had begun but in recent times had adopted a more cost-effective approach using Google Earth and other searches.
The council’s press agent yesterday issued a statement saying development levies were “a charge on the property itself, not on an individual or a developer”, and there was was “an obligation to pay these contributions”.
The Department of Environment said the question of levies was a matter for the planning authority itself.
But a spokesman noted it did not believe Wicklow was “first off the block in this regard”.
Dublin City Council said its policy was not to pursue householders but it was pursuing developers for outstanding levies.
Other councils including Fingal and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown said they were unable to be definitive about their approaches to the issue but they were doubtful if the charges were passed on to householders in the event of default by developers.
Cork City Council was owed €9.2 million in development levies as of January 1st, 2012. Fine Gael councillor Jim Corr said the city council, like many others, was watching what was happening in Wicklow “with interest”.
Since the Planning and Development Act 2000, which overhauled development contributions, such funding has become increasingly important to local authorities.
Contributions are mostly levied for use of roads, water and waste services, among others.