A move by the state government to take up to half of local government developer contributions has angered Armidale councillors.
At last month's council meeting, councillors voted unanimously to make urgent representation to the NSW Government to convey their opposition to the proposed legislative changes to developer infrastructure contributions.
Attacking the move, Armidale mayor Ian Tiley has criticised the government for not consulting councils enough, while he said it could see councils forced to increase rates and have an impact on housing affordability and the availability of land for housing.
Infrastructure contributions from developers are used by councils to help pay for local projects such as playgrounds, sports fields, libraries and parks.
Cr Tiley said the proposed reforms would remove the right of local communities to ensure that development in their area was matched by the community infrastructure they wanted and needed.
"Without at least existing levels of developer contributions, councils will be forced to either forgo the infrastructure or raise rates," said Cr Tiley
"Funding could be taken from areas of greatest need, placed in a fund which could be dispersed anywhere by the state government with no accountability on where or on what funds are expended. The LGNSW regards the Bill as deeply flawed.
"The government is no doubt wanting to secure more development by these measures, but at what cost to ratepayers?"
Armidale Regional Council will request that the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Infrastructure Contributions) Bill, which includes the move, as it stands be withdrawn.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The Upper House Committee rejected the Bill and recommended that it be withdrawn and that there be consultation with councils before any changes are made. The matter is to come back to Parliament on Tuesday.
Cr Tiley said passage of this legislation would provide too much freedom for any future government without consulting.
"This is another form of cost shifting and would create a need for rate increases, which most certainly would not be supported by ratepayers. It would move costs from developers to landowners," he said.
"This is a vital matter for council. My view is that the changes if implemented would undercut the financial future of local government in NSW. The issue of council's sovereignty is also in question. Very little consultation has occurred. There would be impacts for housing affordability - a major concern. Land releases could also diminish."
Twenty-three metropolitan councils have launched a campaign in the national media demanding that the NSW Government abandon these proposed changes. Five of the Mayors have met with the Premier.
These councils are attempting to create public awareness of the detrimental impact the developer levy changes would have on their communities.
A statement from Armidale Regional Council said the strong argument is that developer levies should be spent where they are raised to ensure new development is accompanied by appropriate investment in the surrounding area.
It added that the proposed legislation would break the nexus between where contributions are made and where they are spent.
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