Council contributions create a development impediment

A petition signed by local developers, real estate agents and builders has called on Tenterfield Shire Council to reconsider its contribution costs for new developments, saying that the rates are stymying the availability of much-needed accomodation in the shire.

The petition was submitted by Cal Grogan of Efficient Building Design Services, saying that recent talks with potential developers with a view to subdividing blocks or constructing multi-residential developments have fallen over once council contribution costs are factored in.

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“(Units, townhouses and duplexes) are now in high demand given that people, especially the elderly, are wanting to downsize from the current homes and also because of the severe lack of affordable housing in Tenterfield,” Mr Grogan said.

He said there has been no multi-residential development in Tenterfield in the past five years as the required developer contributions (to account for the additional loading on council infrastructure was as sewer and water systems) make the prospect economically-unviable.

“Further to this, Tenterfield is currently facing a major downturn in the availability of rental properties and this has now been the case for many years.”

Mr Grogan said the rental shortage is being exacerbated by workers involved the Bolivia Hill redevelopment, with the coming heavy vehicle bypass putting further pressure on the market. He offered the example of a large block that could be subdivided in order to construct a rental property, but the contributions of around $15,000 would exceed a year’s worth of rental income. Perversely if the existing house on the block was extended by a similar number of bedrooms, there would be no contributions expense.

Mr Grogan and the petitioners suggested reducing or even removing contributions for a period to boost development. Any loss of revenue could be compensated by greater volumes of application fees and other rates and charges associated with new developments.

“If changes aren’t made to these fees we will lose them, and council will continue along the same pathway of missing out on this source of revenue from contributions, development application fees and rates, whilst no development of this nature is carried out.”

Mayor Peter Petty said the petition couldn’t be more timely, with a statutory review of council’s application of the relevant sections of the Local Government Act already scheduled for this year.

Councillors at September’s meeting were in favour of workshopping a scope of work for the independent reviewer, so that the petitioners’ suggestions can be assessed.

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