Local Councils should follow State’s lead on fast-tracking projects

The Sydney Business Chamber says Councils right across Greater Sydney should follow the State’s lead in fast-tracking infrastructure projects to aid in the economic recovery and create much-needed jobs in their areas.

“The NSW Government has shown with the release of the third tranche of 19 infrastructure projects fast-tracked through the Planning System Acceleration Program, that the approvals process can be sped-up whilst maintaining proper planning processes,” said Katherine O’Regan, Executive Director of the Sydney Business Chamber.

“The Planning Department has offered support to Councils with accelerating the process and those with projects already in the approvals pipeline could have them fast-tracked, injecting money and jobs into the local economy.”

“We know many Councils have been working on bringing forward local infrastructure projects and two of them in the latest tranche of accelerated projects, an office tower over North Sydney’s new Victoria Cross rail station and the UTS Blackfriars Precinct Research Building, are examples of how the Acceleration Program can work.”

“All Councils however have been hit by a perfect storm, with revenues under pressure right when we need them to be able to spend, and spend big – now.”

Not only are Council rates capped by the State, many of the other funding streams Councils have to pay for local infrastructure have been impacted by Covid, like deferring rates, waiving parking charges, fees for swimming pools and childcare centres and footpath dining. Revenue and expenditure have both been impacted by the pandemic.”

“Funding these projects remains the main hurdle for cash-strapped Councils and they need a simpler process to allow them to borrow from the State’s T-Corp and have more flexibility to manage rates in order to assist in responding to the needs of their local community.”

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