Cornish businesses have been urged to make their views known over plans to introduce a new development levy – with concerns already raised that it could impact on the struggling construction sector.
Cornwall Council is currently consulting over the rate of the proposed Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) which is being introduced by all local authorities.
Councils can set their own level of contribution, with the idea that they can make it more attractive to build schemes in some areas and gain greater contributions from projects in more popular areas.
Cornwall Council is in consultation about its CIL, which sees housing developments in large areas of the county, including around Truro, Falmouth, Padstow, Newquay and Lostwithiel, charged at £100 per square metre.
The consultation, which runs until April 22, has sparked concerns that it could exert a further drag effect on the construction sector, which has struggled during the recession as building activity has slowed.
The issue also been adopted as a campaign by the Cornwall For Construction forum, using the tagline "CIL Cornwall Will Kill Cornwall".
The Cornwall Business Forum said it had received "numerous requests" from members to take action over the levy, which it said would have "a dramatic, damaging effect" on the Cornish economy.
Forum member Peter Hutton, owner of Newquay-based plant and tool rental firm Hutton Hire, urged people with concerns to make their views known.
"I run a hire business in the Newquay area and I have concerns about how it will impact on the empty sites that there are in the town," he said. "I think it's an unfair levy because it appears to be another tax that they have dreamt up as another way to raise money. If you were to build a 200sq m property in Newquay this would add an extra £20,000 to the price. Anyone who knows Newquay knows that there are a lot of demolition sites that are not being redeveloped at the moment and this will not help with that."
A rate of £100 per sq m has also been put forward in Torbay, with £30 proposed in Plymouth and £80 in Exeter.
Although each authority can set its own level of CIL, these need to be ratified by an examiner. Mid Devon District Council has already been ordered to reduce its proposed level of charging for housing from £90 to £40. Examiner David Hogger said: "There is a serious risk to affordable housing provision and thus the overall development of the area."
To comment on the proposed rate of levy in Cornwall, log on to www.cornwall.gov.uk/local plancornwall.