Under sections 48 and 49 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, planning authorities may attach conditions to planning permissions charging development contributions in respect of public infrastructure and facilities provided by, or on behalf of, the local authority that benefit development in the area.
Development contributions are levied by planning authorities on the basis of a development contribution scheme, approved by the elected members, which sets out how contributions are to be applied in their respective functional area. The level of contribution, and the types of development to which development contributions should apply, is therefore determined at local authority level in accordance with the powers vested in elected members, having regard to the governing legislative and policy framework.
In essence, the charging of such development contributions is intended to partly fund the provision of essential public infrastructure and the servicing of land for private development, without which development could not proceed. The money collected in this regard must be ring-fenced and used to fund public infrastructure and facilities servicing new development, for example, roads, footpaths, public lighting and open spaces.
My role as Minister is to provide the necessary legislative and policy framework within which individual development contribution schemes are adopted by each local authority. In this context, my Department issued statutory guidelines to planning authorities in January 2013 under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 on the implementation of development contribution schemes to which planning authorities are required to have regard in the performance of their planning functions. The 2013 guidelines updated and supplemented non-statutory guidance previously issued to local authorities by my Department by way of Circulars PD 4/2003 and PD 5/2007.
The 2013 guidelines, inter alia, emphasise the importance of promoting development through the application, where feasible, of reduced development contributions to facilitate development and promote economic activity and job creation in local areas with a particular focus on supporting town centre development and incentivising activity in the areas prioritised for development in the relevant core strategy.
In accordance with section 48(5) of the Act, planning authorities are required to forward a copy of any draft development contribution scheme prepared to the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, who may make recommendations to the planning authority regarding the terms of the draft scheme. In this context, the development contribution system is monitored and kept under review by my Department and where the need for further planning guidance for development contribution schemes is identified, my Department will develop such guidance as appropriate.