News

September 16, 2021

Twenty-three (23) metropolitan councils have today (Thursday 16 September, 2021) launched a campaign demanding the NSW Government abandon its plan to divert local government funds into State revenue.

The NSW Government is attempting to take up to half of local government “developer contributions” – the money councils levy developers to help pay for local infrastructure such as playgrounds, sports fields, libraries and parks.

The councils have published an open letter in the Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph, to raise public awareness of the detrimental impact this levy change will have on their communities.

The councils argue that developer levies should be spent where they are raised to ensure new development is accompanied by appropriate investment in the surrounding area.

The letter reads:

 

Dear Premier,

As you know, the NSW Government imposes housing targets onto local Councils to accommodate Sydney’s population growth.

And in turn, our communities rely on our Councils to deliver the essential facilities and infrastructure needed to support this growth, and make people’s lives and local environments better.

This infrastructure includes everything from roads and footpaths, to sports fields, parks and netball courts, to playgrounds, pools and libraries.

We can only deliver these facilities because we are able to collect contributions from property developers to help fund them.

However, the changes now being planned by the NSW Government will divert a large proportion of these developer contributions away from Councils and into a Treasury-controlled fund, with no clear accountability or transparency of how it will be spent.

And the Government is proposing Councils raise rates to make up the revenue we are losing.

This breaks the nexus between where contributions are made and where they are spent. This threatens the ability of every Council to deliver much-needed new community facilities, and transfers that burden onto our ratepayers.

Premier, you are forcing us to choose between cancelling projects and raising rates. And this is at a time of pandemic-induced financial hardship for many people in the state.

On behalf of our communities, we urge that you withdraw the changes currently before Parliament.

View as a PDF

 

Modelling by the Centre for International Economics (CIE) estimates that the Infrastructure Contributions Bill (2021) would give the NSW Government an additional $793million per year in revenue (averaged over 20 years).

Local councils will only be able to levy local development for “essential infrastructure” and will be left with shortfalls in funding for playgrounds, open space, sports and community facilities unless they raise rates. This transfers the cost of new Community infrastructure to support new development from the developers to ratepayers.

The 23 signatories are directing communities to visit www.saveourcommunities.com to find out more, and to also voice their concern with local members of Parliament.

The signatories are: Bayside, Blacktown City, Blue Mountains, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury Bankstown, City of Sydney, Cumberland, Hawkesbury, Hunter’s Hill, Inner West, Lane Cove, Liverpool, Mosman, North Sydney, Penrith, Randwick, Ryde, Strathfield, Sutherland Shire, Waverley, Willoughby and Woollahra.

Hunters Hill Mayor Ross Williams said developer contributions were used to fund public facilitates to meet increasing community demand.

“The NSW Government’s proposal is cost shifting at its worst and will mean that residents have to fund infrastructure for the benefit of developers.” he said.

“Without funding from developer contributions, Council would not be able to do much more than maintain present services through its rates revenue and we may have to reduce other services.

“The impacts for our community of these possible changes would be significant for the future financial performance of our Council and others.”

 

How proposed changes could affect Hunters Hill

If the State Government’s proposed changes to developer contributions are adopted, Hunter’s Hill Council is projected to lose on average $0.4 million per year, or $7.2 million over the next 20 years.

Because the new funding principle is based on population growth, and Hunters Hill is a low population growth council, it will be significantly impacted by the proposed reforms. Most development within Hunters Hill is redevelopment of existing dwellings, which would not attract developer contributions. Modelling shows that Hunter’s Hill Council’s contributions income is expected to fall by around 80%.

Without this funding mechanism, Council would not be able to do much more than maintain present services through its rates revenue and it may have to reduce other services.

 

Examples of projects funded from developer contributions

 

Woolwich Baths

The picturesque harbour beach at Woolwich Baths is a popular spot for community recreation, particular for families with young children.

Funding from developer contributions is enabling Hunter’s Hill Council to upgrade the tidal baths to make it safe and accessible for the community.

The work includes replacing the rotting piers and shark net.

This will make the area more user-friendly and allow residents to use the baths safely.

Gladesville village centre – main street renewal

Gladesville is one of the main village centres in Hunters Hill.

Victoria Road is a major Sydney arterial road and in Gladesville, Victoria Road is home to cafes, restaurants, retail shops and service outlets.

Funding from developer contributions allowed Hunter’s Hill Council to complete restoration works along a section of Victoria Road.

The work included removing existing pavers and laying a concrete base with new pavers, kerb and gutter works, accessibility improvements and driveway works.

This not only enhanced safety and accessibility in this busy area, but also helped lift the aesthetics of the street, which in turn supports the local businesses who operate there.

Bike Plan

Hunter’s Hill Council adopted its latest Bike Plan in March 2021, following public exhibition and input from a working party comprising residents, Council staff and consultants.

The plan aims to promote and encourage bicycle use, with the intention that the use of active transport will have positive impacts on the health and wellbeing of the community.

Actions identified in the plan include shared paths, bike lockers, refuge islands, local area traffic interventions and wayfinding.

The bike plan was prepared with funding from developer contributions.

 

The scenario for metropolitan councils

View as a PDF

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Hunter’s Hill Council

22 Alexandra Street, Hunters Hill NSW 2110
PO Box 21, Hunters Hill NSW 2110
Tel: (02) 9879 9400

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