NSW councils put on notice over developer contributions

The NSW State Government has foreshadowed moves to have councils pool infrastructure funds drawn from developer contributions to invest in community infrastructure.

NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes says the proposed legislative changes will “permit councils to pool funds across contribution plans, allowing them to bring forward planned projects where all the funds may not yet have been received.

“We know local government wants to get these funds out the door, and in addition to these changes we have a range of options to help councils invest the funds, including low cost loans, grant funding, and other support for strategic planning and capital works,” Mr Stokes said in a statement.

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) has described the move as “over-reach”.

LGNSW President Linda Scott said councils strongly supported the need to work quickly and flexibly to deliver community infrastructure as economic stimulus during the Covid-19 recovery.

“However, our main concern is the risk of intervention by the Planning Minister into the operation of councils will lead to uncertainty, which will prevent councils spending, preventing them from stimulating local economies and investing in infrastructure for the public good,” Cr Scott said.

“The State Government must not dictate how a council uses the funds already earmarked for a particular community purpose or project,” she said.

“This over-reach could have implications for how councils deliver their program of community projects and future financial planning.”