Sports clubs are being forced to fork out thousands of euros for developments that are the responsibility of the local authority, according to a Cork Senator.
Senator Colm Burke (FG) told The Echo that he has spoken to a number of clubs which revealed local authorities are asking them to carry out additional works when upgrading or building new facilities.
“A few clubs have been in contact with me after pre-planning meetings with local authorities,” he said.
“They’re telling me that local authorities are looking to get work done that would technically be their responsibility.
“It is a concern,” he added.
“In some cases, GAA and soccer clubs are looking to develop facilities and the local authority is requiring them to carry out works that are its’ own responsibility.
“I have one case where a club has told me that putting a footpath along the public roadway, which the local authority has requested, would cost around €100,000.
“That’s a huge amount.” Senator Burke said that while central government will pay out a substantial grant “nine times out of ten”, local authorities are paying very little at times even though the service is being provided for the benefit of the local community.
“Local authorities are also collecting charges but we’re not seeing the evidence that this money is being put back into the community it’s taken from,” he added.
Senator Burke raised the issue with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.
In response, Minister of State at the Department, Damien English explained that it is up to local authorities to determine any planning contribution or conditions, when granting planning permission.
He said that development contributions provide critical resources to facilitate the provision of essential public infrastructure and facilities by local authorities.
The department advised in 2003 that development contribution schemes can allow for a reduced contribution or no contribution in certain circumstances, such as in areas in need of regeneration; permissions in brownfield areas; or permissions granted to charitable organisations.
In 2007, this was extended to voluntary housing schemes and other community-type infrastructural projects provided by voluntary or not-for-profit non-statutory groups.
“These recommendations are generally being applied by local authorities in their development contribution schemes through a range of exemptions and reduced fees,” said Minister English.
“A number of local authorities also include specific exemptions for sports facilities provided by voluntary organisations or bodies in their schemes.
“At present, I am satisfied that the existing statutory and policy framework in this regard strikes the right balance between ensuring a transparent and broadly consistent levying of development contributions across the country, while also affording each local authority sufficient flexibility and discretion in the application of development contributions within their own respective functional areas.”