Six new apartment complexes were given the green light Friday after the Central Planning Authority convened a special meeting to allow developers a chance to have their applications reviewed before a “loophole” allowing stamp duty reductions is closed.
The Mantras, a $15 million, 50-apartment complex on South Sound Road, Baer Development’s 26-apartment complex in George Town, and Dolphin Point’s $50 million 43-condo development in West Bay were among those approved.
Changes to the Stamp Duty Law, effective 1 July, will close what government describes as a “loophole” that has allowed home buyers to pay stamp duty on the land price, rather than the finished property, for various types of development.
That has meant significant savings for buyers, worth tens of thousands of dollars, in some cases.
Developers that are granted planning permission before 1 July will still be able to take advantage of the old tax regime and market their properties at lower cost.
Several submitted applications before the deadline, and the planning department agreed to schedule an additional meeting in June to accommodate them.
In total, six new complexes were approved across the island with a total estimated expenditure of around $85 million.
The biggest of those is a $50-million development at Dolphin Point, off North West Point Road in West Bay. The application includes 43 apartments on an oceanfront site.
The land was the home of a previous development which was damaged during Hurricane Ivan and later demolished.
According to paperwork submitted to the CPA, the new complex has been designed with increased setbacks and a ground floor parking area to reduce the likelihood of storm impacts in future.
Applications from South Sound Condos for 14 units on South Sound Road, from Winsome Prendergast for 20 apartments in West Bay, and from One Canal Point, for 17 apartments – another phase of a much larger development – were also approved.
Government passed legislation to close the loophole in December last year, but added an amendment to the draft legislation delaying implementation.
According to an analysis of the legislation by Bedell Cristin law firm, the amendment enables those “with planning permission in place by 30 June 2019 to have a year to take advantage of the pre-existing regime for stamp duty on ‘linked property transactions’, provided they enter into their contracts before 31 December 2019”.
Government hopes the changes will increase revenue, but some developers have warned it could raise the barrier for home ownership and have a cooling effect on residential development.