Development levy waiver must be extended – Burke

The temporary waiver of development levies and the refund of Uisce Éireann water and wastewater connection charges must be extended to further boost the supply of new housing stock, Minister Peter Burke has said.

“The temporary waiver brought in in April 2023 is due to expire in April 2024 and I would see it as a major boost for house builders and a great help in increasing supply of housing stock.

“Since last year, builders of new-build homes have not been required to pay development levies to local authorities for new build homes. Instead, the local authority invoices the amount of the levy to the government, who refund it back to the local authority. In addition, water and wastewater connection charges levied by Uisce Éireann are refunded to the developer when valid commencement notices are issued,” Minister Burke explained.

“The waiver and refund scheme have proven immensely effective, as evidenced by the increase of commencements by 21% in 2023 to over 32,800 housing units. Even more encouraging is the data over the past three months which clearly indicates an even greater ramp up by the sector: 3357 housing units were commenced in January, 3167 units in December, 3087 in November.

“If this pace is to continue, we can project the commencement of 38,000 units by the end of this year which obviously feeds through to completion statistics in 2024 and 2025,” commented Minister Burke.

“In addition to extending the waiver and refund scheme, I believe there needs to be a limited extension of the properties that are covered. The failure to include ‘change of use’ or vacant/derelict properties being brought back into productive use for housing is a glaring anomaly. I previously argued successfully for former vacant pubs to be exempt from needing planning permission when being converted into residential units.

“To the end of 2022, 2235 housing units have been delivered in former commercial premises and it seems logical to me that the development levy waiver and Uisce Éireann refund scheme would be extended to these properties as they often face significant viability issues.

“Government action to activate the delivery of more homes is working, however we need to guard the progress that is being made and ensure the upward trajectory continues. The deadline for the expiration of this temporary measure is fast approaching –the Housing Minister must take stock of the units that came on the market as a direct result of this measure and I hope he can take decisive action to safe-guard this crucial stream of supply.”