NSW councils have gone public with their fight against changes to planning rules which could see growing communities miss out on the local infrastructure needed to support increased housing.
Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott said the NSW Government had yet to back down on proposed rule changes impacting infrastructure contributions by developers, despite vocal opposition from 54 councils who had already joined the campaign against the move.
“That’s half of all councils in NSW, with more passing mayoral minutes opposing the move each week,” Cr Scott said. Campaign supporters include large city councils such as Blacktown, Parramatta and Hornsby; outback councils such as Broken Hill, and regional or remote councils such as Uralla and Hay Shire.
“Infrastructure contributions are made by developers as a critical co-funding measure to deliver footpaths and cycleways, parks, playgrounds, playing fields, skate parks, basketball courts, libraries, childcare centres and public pools – even street lighting, stormwater and drainage facilities,” Cr Scott said.
“The rule changes proposed by the NSW Government would reduce the type of community infrastructure that could be funded by developer contributions.
“They also want developer contributions to bypass councils and go straight to the State Government, with no guarantee the money will be spent in the area from which it was collected.
“That means they could spend it however they like, wherever they like, and whenever they like.
“The community expects local infrastructure funds to be invested locally in a fair and transparent manner – not hoarded for potential pork-barrelling.
“Communities deserve to have a say in how planning rules impact on them, and that’s why we need to take our advocacy against this move public.”
Clr Scott said a ‘Say No to The Contributions Cash Grab’ campaign was being rolled out across the state through social and mainstream media.
“Many councils across NSW have already passed motions condemning the move,” she said.
“As a peak body, LGNSW has been told the 10-year financial impact on local government ranges anywhere from $3 million for a small council to more than $1 billion for our largest councils.
“Regional councils are experiencing significant tree- and sea-change growth, particularly in the wake of COVID pandemic lockdowns, so these proposed rule changes have everyone deeply concerned.
“We want to work with Government to drive a locally-led economic recovery from the pandemic, but this is being put at risk by these ill-considered planning rule changes.”
Clr Scott said the development industry had also expressed grave concerns with the Urban Task Force’s 17 September newsletter stating: “It is becoming evident that this entire process is simply a tax grab – from new home buyers, from developers, from local Councils and from communities”.
Clr Scott called on the Government to scrap the proposed rule changes and work collaboratively with councils.
“We cannot and will not let the Government cut communities and councils out of the picture.”
More details on the Say No to the Contributions Cash Grab campaign can be found here.