Proposed developer contribution changes opposed

Armidale Regional councillors have voted unanimously to make urgent representation to the New South Wales Government to convey Council’s opposition to the proposed legislative changes to developer infrastructure contributions and request that the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Infrastructure Contributions) Bill as it stands be withdrawn.

NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes, with support from the Treasurer, is proposing to amend a number of planning rules, including the rules governing developer contributions. The Infrastructure Contributions Bill, and associated regulations, introduced to Parliament on 22 June 2021, and then referred to an Upper House Committee for inquiry and report, could inter alia: -

A. Reduce the type of community infrastructure that could be funded by developer contributions; and

B. Place developer contributions into four Treasury- controlled regional funds, with no guarantees that the money would be directed back into projects in the local areas where the levies had been collected.

C. Dictate to councils on what and how they spend their contributions – through Ministerial directions.

D. Enable future governments to make further potentially damaging changes to the system without parliamentary scrutiny.

The Upper House Committee rejected the Bill and recommended that it be withdrawn and that there be consultation with councils before any changes were made. The matter is to come back to Parliament today, 12th October 2021.

Armidale Regional Council Mayor, Ian Tiley said the proposed reforms would remove the right of local communities to ensure the development in their area was matched by the community infrastructure they wanted and needed. He said it was another form of cost shifting that would create a need for rate increases and it would move costs from developers to landowners.

Twenty-three metropolitan councils have launched a campaign to create public awareness of the detrimental impact the developer levy changes would have on their communities, arguing that developer levies should be spent where they are raised to ensure new development is accompanied by appropriate investment in the surrounding area. The proposed legislation would break the nexus between where contributions are made and where they are spent.