'It’s just an extortionate amount of money': Development charges enforced on some family home renovations

'It’s just an extortionate amount of money': Development charges enforced on some family home renovations

People within the city bounds who wish to extend their family home by more than 40 sq m or who wish to redevelop more than 40 sq m of it are liable for the charges from Cork City Council. Depending on the size of the area being developed, it could result in people owing the council thousands of euro.

An amendment to Cork City Council’s development contribution scheme has resulted in people who are extending or redeveloping their family home having to pay contributions on projects of a certain size.

People within the city bounds who wish to extend their family home by more than 40 sq m or who wish to redevelop more than 40 sq m of it are liable for the charges from Cork City Council. Depending on the size of the area being developed, it could result in people owing the council thousands of euro.

The change was voted in by councillors this year as part of an amended Development Contribution Scheme and Supplementary Development Contribution Scheme for 2020-2022. However, it is understood this change was not highlighted to councillors at the time.

Prior to September 14, people looking to increase the floor area of their home paid no contributions. After that date “if someone is redeveloping their family home and increased the floor area, they don’t pay contributions on the first 40 sq m of the development but they pay development contributions on the remaining floor area of the development,” according to a spokesperson for City Hall.

This change has forced one man who spoke to The Echo to rethink his plans to upgrade his family home.

Jordan Ryan received planning permission to redevelop and extend his terraced house in the Blackrock area of the city after September 14.

His permission includes: Demolition, reconstruction, and extension of the existing dwelling, including the construction of a part two-storey, part single-storey extension to the rear, maintaining the front facades, raising the position of dormer windows, and amendments to the roof structure.

It also includes the demolition and reconstruction of a garage to include the insertion of a mezzanine floor.

According to planning documentation, he has to pay €16,442.19 as a general contribution, and an additional €3,113.17 as part of the supplementary scheme to Cork City Council.

If he pays within a year of commencement he will get a 20% discount.

If he had received permission before September 14, he would not be facing that cost at all.

“It’s so much that I don’t want to go through with this any more,” he said. “I bought this house because I loved this house and I wanted to renovate it.

“But now, it’s just an extortionate amount of money, and something I never had planned.

“It’s a tax that came in overnight and is extortionately high in a time where a lot of people are unemployed.”

Mr Ryan said he plans to extend the gross square footage of the house by just 50 sq m, but also has to rebuild the internals of the house due to its age, which he says has resulted in him being penalised for doing the right thing.

“I cannot build on what I have,” he said. “It’s too old. It needs redeveloping.

“If I build a new house with the walls that I have, in 100 years it’s going to fall down anyway.

“I’m doing the right thing. I’m putting in a proper structure.”

A spokesperson for City Hall said: “The total floor area of the development was 349.5 sq m. 40 sq m was taken off in accordance with the scheme for redevelopment of the family home, leaving 309.5 sq m levied contributions.”

This change to the development contribution was voted for on the same night that a 50% reduction on levies was brought in for new apartments or houses, including build-to-rent developments.

Chair of Cork City Council’s Strategic Housing Policy Committee Councillor Terry Shannon explained why the charges were introduced for individual family homes.

“It was to close that loophole where people were coming in with large extensions, nearly the size of the house and larger, and there was no charge,” he said.

“If you are 40 sq m or below there is still no development charge.”

However, asked whether councillors were made aware that this was part of what they voted for in the amended contribution schemes Mr Shannon said: “It wasn’t an issue that came up in the debate that I’m aware of.

“That’s not to say it didn’t but I don’t recall it.”

Another councillor said the introduction of the charges “didn’t jump out” at them at the time of the vote.

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