Perth councils ‘sitting on infrastructure money’

PERTH metropolitan councils have been accused of having banked more than $1 billion in money meant for community infrastructure provision.

Media reports suggest the money was collected from developers to fund facilities associated with greenfield or infill developments (including footpaths, childcare centres, sporting facilities and carparks) and that it remains in council bank accounts – partly because there is no set timeframe for it to be spent.

The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA-WA), which represents the state’s property developers, wants councils to be made to spend the money more quickly.

UDIA WA chief executive Allison Hailes said the developer contributions come from house prices, so the money effectively comes from homebuyers.

“They deserve – and in fact have paid for – facilities and infrastructure that simply aren’t being provided in a timely manner,” she told the media.

However, the seven councils – some of which are members of UDIA-WA – dispute the figures and say they collectively sit on closer to $300 million.

They attributed the delays in spending the money to a range of factors, including the availability of land, population growth, and regulatory requirements.

The WA Local Government Association (WALGA) organised a meeting between UDIA-WA and the councils on 8 February to enable CEO Ricky Burges to put forward the sector’s view.