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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Proposal to support region’s growth

A proposed financial contribution from developers aims to help fund almost $470 million over the next 20 years in state and regional infrastructure needed to support a growing population.

The draft Hunter Region Special Infrastructure Contribution (SIC) is on public exhibition until 25 February.

It will be paid by developers and replace the need to negotiate individual voluntary planning agreements, a process where a developer or builder agrees to provide or fund public infrastructure.

The state government claims the Hunter Region SIC will deliver several benefits for the community, landowners, developers and councils.

Some of these include: speeding up the process of state developer contributions across 10 LGAs; supporting timely delivery of infrastructure in line with community expectations and rate of growth; and helping the development industry to contribute funding towards infrastructure that supports development of new communities.

Regional roads, schools, health facilities, and emergency services are among the projects tipped to benefit from the proposal.

However, the Housing Industry Association (HIA)’s executive director for the Hunter, Craig Jennion, believes the government’s intent to charge developers with additional costs is “certain to further reduce housing affordability for local families” as any levies paid by developers go straight onto the price of a new home.

“The recognition by the NSW government that vital regional infrastructure is required to support future development in the Hunter is pleasing, but the cost to the consumer of this new tax must also be considered,” Mr Jennion says.

“HIA accepts the proposition that developers should be delivering local infrastructure and items which are essential to a new subdivision, such as local roads, open space, drainage and utilities.
“But what has been proposed is a new charge that relates to much broader community infrastructure from which everyone uses and benefits – including health and emergency services infrastructure such as ambulance and fire stations, hospitals, sporting facilities, and state roads.

“These are important assets that will be owned and utilised by the whole community and, accordingly, it should be the broader community that meets the cost, rather than the individual home buyer.”

Mr Jennion claims that, with HIA predicting new home building approvals to start declining in the coming years, there is a risk it will happen more quickly if the Hunter Region SIC is introduced.

Visit planning.nsw.gov.au to view the proposal.

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