Councils concerned about infrastructure contribution rule changes

Local Government NSW says State Government infrastructure contribution rule changes sneaked into Parliament this week have the power to defer and reduce critical developer payments to councils.

LGNSW President Linda Scott said infrastructure contributions were paid by developers to allow local governments to fund local infrastructure such as cycleways, footpaths and roads, parks and flood proofing drains, childcare venues and performance spaces.

“These contributions are vital to ensure that growth is accompanied with the necessary infrastructure capacity to support it,” Cr Scott said.

“I am deeply concerned these changes to contribution rules were introduced by the Government as part of a package of other Bills during State Budget week without proper consultation with councils, or LGNSW as the peak body for councils in NSW.

“Communities depend on councils to deliver for the public good. This Bill risks reducing these efforts.

“I have written to Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes to voiced our opposition to these rule changes and our concerns they have been introduced without the level of scrutiny they deserve.

“On behalf of NSW local governments, I have asked them to withdraw this Bill as it stands and commit to consult with local governments and our communities first.”

Cr Scott said the proposed rule changes were part of the Government’s Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Infrastructure Contributions) Bill 2021, which are meant to introduce a welcomed major overhaul of the labyrinth of infrastructure contribution rules.

“LGNSW weighed in heavily on the NSW Productivity Commissioner’s review of infrastructure contributions and wrote to Minister Stokes late last year,” Cr Scott said.

“Our submission stressed the need for appropriate infrastructure contributions that reflect the additional impacts of growth and development. We need planning contribution rules to be transparent, more equitable and easier to understand.

“It was pleasing the Productivity Commissioner backed many of our recommendations in his final report to the NSW Government. This week’s move to push these rule changes through without adequate consultation is very worrying.”

Cr Scott said LGNSW would not support the Bill until there were concrete assurances that local governments and communities would not be worse off under the legislation.

“We need to be assured that the Bill will not result in further cost shifting from developers on to local government and communities,” she said.

“More detail is required about these proposed new regulations. It is premature to push forward with this existing Bill while so much of the infrastructure reform agenda remains unknown.”

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