Developer contribution 'wrong'

“WRONG with a capital W” is how Coffs Harbour Mayor Keith Rhoades describes the State Budget cap on developer contributions for new residential subdivisions announced this week.

Tuesday’s NSW Budget set in concrete the $20,000 per block cap first introduced by Premier Kristina Keneally when she held the portfolio as NSW Planning Minister.

Top of Cr Rhoades’ pre-Budget wish list was the hope this cap would be dropped.

Ms Keneally has praised the cap as helping to make housing more affordable but local councils see it making new suburbs less appealing or shifting costs which should properly belong to the developer back onto the ratepayer.

Ms Keneally said she introduced the limit because some councils were imposing developer contributions of more than $50,000

Cr Rhoades said the highest contribution asked by Coffs Harbour City Council was $24,300 per block for a subdivision on the Northern Beaches.

“There is going to be a very severe fallback down the track, because the expectations of the community will not be met,” Cr Rhoades said.

The section 94 contributions plans saw money put towards surf lifesaving services, libraries, sporting facilities and infrastructure.

For example, in West Woolgoolga the Section 94 contributions plan included a bridge and upgrade to the intersection of Newmans Road and the Pacific Highway.

“What does the government want us to do?’ the Mayor asked.

“Either we won’t have the infrastructure or the whole community has to pay (for services to new subdivisions).”

Cr Rhoades said although they could apply under IPART for higher contributions, the budget cap implied higher contributions would not be approved.

He said there were ‘grey areas’ but unless there were changes the council faced going back to the ‘bad old days’ when developers put up street light poles but no street lights. “Infrastructure costs should be met by the developer,” Cr Rhoades said, “but the Premier is saying to increase rates”.

He said the Local Government Association was very involved and was willing to take up the interests of member councils and the matter was also likely to be raised again by the Country Mayors Association lobby group, which Cr Rhoades heads.

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