REDUCING planning levies on new houses and commercial developments in the parts of Clare most affected by population decline should be used as a means of helping those areas.
Councillor PJ Kelly said that the Government seem to have forgotten the West of Ireland and that, if there was no levy for new commercial developments, it would encourage industries to locate in struggling areas.
The Lissycasey man put forward a motion that a reduced scale of Section 48 planning levies be approved to encourage development in the worst affected areas.
Referring to the most recent census, he said Kilkee had lost around 300 people, while the parish of Cooraclare, home of Bill Chambers, cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, is down by 9%. He said that while Ennis might seem to be expanding, its population was up by a marginal 2%.
“If we give a zero rate for areas in decline, it can encourage industries to go in,” Councillor Kelly said. “It’s not the full solution but it is a step in the right direction,” he added.
While the proposal was popular with his colleagues, a written report from director of services, Ger Dollard showed that contributions for both dwelling houses and commercial developments are lower in Clare than in counties Kilkenny, Offaly, Tipperary and Waterford.
The report stated that preparatory work for a new County Development Contribution Scheme for 2017-2023 is underway, which is likely to be adopted next March or April.
“The new scheme will be framed in the context of the emerging 2016 Census population figures, the abolition of the Kilrush and Ennis Town Councils and their associated schemes and the establishment of Irish Water.
“Moreover, the new contribution scheme will be aligned with the new Clare County Development Plan 2017-2023, a goal of which is to provide for strong and balanced urban and rural areas and to promote and enhance economic development opportunities throughout the county.”
At the meeting, Mr Dollard said that, in preparing this scheme, the decision on what sort of levy should be charged will be made, while he warned that the levies are used to fund works by the council.