Monday, February 26, 2024

Councils back rejection of infrastructure contribution rule changes

Controversial new planning laws expected to slash developer contributions to local community infrastructure have been rejected by a Parliamentary Committee this week following Local Government NSW (LGNSW) intervention.

LGNSW President, Linda Scott said the Committee recommended a hold on the proposed changes, which would have deferred and reduced the critical developer payments used by councils to deliver increased infrastructure to support new developments.

“The NSW Government tried to rush the changes through as part of a new Bill introduced during the busyness of State Budget Week, but LGNSW discovered it, pushed back and as a result it was sent to the NSW Upper House’s Inquiry Committee this week,” Cr Scott said.

“I spoke at the Inquiry last month – along with a number of mayors of all political persuasions from across NSW – and called for the rushed legislation to be withdrawn.

“It is unconscionable that our sector was not consulted when the Government tried to push through the new Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Infrastructure Contributions) Bill 2021 – particularly considering the enormous consequences for our councils and our communities.”

Cr Scott said infrastructure contributions were the primary way councils funded the demand for increased infrastructure brought on by new developments in their areas.

“To delay or reduce payments would result in 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.”

She said there was a complete lack of detail in the Bill.

“We don’t know what will be in the Ministerial directions and regulations that are yet to be developed.”

“Without these important details it is impossible to know the far-reaching financial implications for our councils and communities.”

The Upper House Infrastructure Contributions Bill Inquiry Committee Report, released this week (August 10), recommended the Bill’s proposed changes to infrastructure contributions not proceed until the draft regulations have been developed and released for consultation.

“The Committee also recommended the reviews into the rate pegging system, benchmarking and the essential works list be considered in any changes once they have been published by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal,” Cr Scott said.

“This is exactly the outcome we were seeking in presenting our case to the Inquiry.

“Councils welcome the Committee’s recommendation and together, we call on the NSW Government to withdraw the Bill to rewrite it completely.”

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