NSW councils to oppose rule changes to infrastructure contributions

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) will oppose infrastructure contribution rule changes that threaten to defer and reduce critical developer payments to councils at a Parliamentary inquiry this week.

LGNSW President Linda Scott said the NSW Government had tried to sneak the changes through Parliament during last month’s NSW Budget week to avoid scrutiny, but the peak association for councils successfully pushed back and the legislation was sent back to an Upper House Committee for review.

“These contributions help fund vital infrastructure to support population growth in communities, including footpaths, cycleways, parks and open space to help cope with the increased demand new development brings,” Cr Scott said.

“I was surprised the NSW Government tried to push through changes that would result in potential deferral and reductions of these payments without even consulting councils and their communities.

“The proposed new rules may help developers, but they will potentially hurt communities and shift some of these costs incurred by new development back to communities.

“The changes could also result in the delay or removal of projects for the public good from local government community plans, with a consequential hit to important community infrastructure such as pools and parks, as well as investment and jobs that would have been generated through the design, development, delivery and operation of these public facilities.

“I am looking forward to speaking on behalf of councils and our communities at the Upper House Committee inquiry, where I will be calling on this rushed legislation to be withdrawn so councils and our communities can ensure vital community infrastructure can proceed, and councils are no worse off.

“This Bill, if passed, breaks the nexus between development and place. The NSW Government could regulate to collect a contribution from a development in Penrith and spend it in Potts Point.

“Communities that bear the brunt of density deserve to receive a public benefit in return. This Bill risks breaking that strong link between a place and a public benefit.”

Cr Scott said a cursory review of the proposed changes revealed a number of significant problems.

“The Bill also seeks to make permanent some troubling temporary arrangements, including allowing the Planning Minister to direct all councils to permit deferral of infrastructure payments by developers until the completion of the project,” she said.

“Communities shouldn’t have to wait for thousands of new residents to move in so that the roads can be built, and then dug up to build the drains. This reform condemns infrastructure upgrades incurred by new developments to the very end of the process.

“Importantly, it would delay the provision of parks, cycleways, footpaths, stormwater drainage and a plethora of vital infrastructure and leave new residents without essential services and facilities when they move into an area.

“Local governments are advocating for the value of the developer contributions to cover the cost of increased local infrastructure required to meet the needs of new residents.

“The NSW Government must provide assurances that councils and our communities will not be worse off under any of these reforms.”

Cr Scott will be joined at Friday’s Parliamentary hearing by representatives from Illawarra Shoalhaven Joint Organisation, Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils and Riverina Joint Organisation, who will also argue for the withdrawal of the Bill for further consultation.

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