Calls for NSW Government to halt infrastructure contributions reforms

Willoughby City

Infrastructure reforms

Willoughby City Council calls on the NSW Government to withdraw the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment Bill 2021 from the NSW Parliament.

At its meeting on Monday 13 September, Council confirmed its ongoing support for the local government sector’s campaign to halt the state government’s infrastructure contributions reforms which would have major consequences for Sydney councils.

The NSW Government proposes to link the rate peg to population growth and reform infrastructure contributions through the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Infrastructure Contributions) Bill 2021. However, independent modelling indicates that Willoughby City Council could lose almost $100m in infrastructure contributions over 20 years if the reforms proceed, leading to a reduction in facilities available to the community.

Negotiations with state government have been promising, with Hon Rob Stokes MP, Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, recently agreeing to relook at the modelling and committing to no council being worse off.

Willoughby is part of the Northern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (NSROC) which collectively faces losses of $171 million in the first five years after the reforms, $325 million in the first 10 years, and $461 million in the 15 years after the reforms are implemented.

Council is concerned that parts of the Bill jeopardise its capacity to fund vital local infrastructure as the City’s population grows.

Key projects at risk under the current reform proposals include the Willoughby Leisure Centre upgrade and dozens of projects to increase the capacity of our parks, open spaces and active transport links.

Mayor Gail Giles-Gidney said that reduced local infrastructure investment would be a handbrake on jobs and economic growth, remarking that the bill will result in permanent deferral of contributions payments to councils which delay the provision of essential community infrastructure and transfer the costs to the community.

“We thank the state government for listening to Sydney councils on this important issue and welcome the recent commitment from the Minister for Planning and Public Space to relook at the modelling,” said Mayor Gail Giles-Gidney.

“We now call on the NSW Government to undertake further consultation with the local government sector on any proposed reforms to the infrastructure contributions system and to de-couple the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal led review of the rate peg to include population growth from the infrastructure contributions reforms.”

“Existing communities will carry the burden of paying for the infrastructure costs for new developments until the payments are made. We do not have the financial capacity to forward fund multiple infrastructure projects while awaiting vital contributions payments from developers for those projects.”

Council also affirms its support of LGNSW and requests it continues advocating to protect local government from any amendments to infrastructure contributions which leaves councils and communities exposed to expending ratepayer funds on new infrastructure made necessary by new development, currently the responsibility of developers.

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