DPIE News

Share

BPN submission to the Infrastructure Contributions System Review

The following submission is made on behalf of the Better Planning Network (BPN):

 

Part A - Draft planning agreements policy framework (including Practice Note)

 

General Comments

 

1. BPN’s objectives include advocating for the principles of ecologically sustainable development, community well-being and quality of life. However, BPN’s strong feedback from its members is that the density of development for some years is not providing anywhere near enough necessitated community infrastructure for the needs of people, for a healthy environment or for the enhancement of community well-being - social, environmental and economic. The BPN aims to ensure there is adequate opportunity for public involvement and participation in environmental planning and assessment, that protects our environment, including natural and cultural heritage, but believes that this requirement is not being satisfied by the current arrangements around planning agreements or the related planning proposals or development applications.

 

Examples of inadequate Infrastructure contribution from the land value uplift and profit from development:

(i) Central Newcastle Interchange – Wickham Street Development - footpaths of inadequate width and unsealed, not compliant for people with a disability. This also highlights the need for stronger inspection and enforcement provisions to ensure in-kind works are properly compliant. (Photos included). Newcastle, the largest regional city already had a backlog of “$114 million of degraded, irrepairable infrastructure”in 2007 (Percy Allen Report) and cannot afford further degradation from inadequate development contributions.

 bpn_newcastle.png

(ii) Parramatta CBD - in 2017 Council estimated that even using rates, grants, previous section 94/94A and section 7.11/12 and public value share (development contribution) from planning agreements, for the current planning proposal build out there would still be a $200 million shortfall for community infrastructure required to support the developments. By 2020 the shortfall for necessitated community infrastructure has now been estimated to be at least $1 billion.

(iii) Suburban Fringe Greenfield – Development at Minmi for 3,000 dwellings. It is understood there is nowhere near enough value capture for a library, community centre, shared pathways, district sport facility, cycleways, playgrounds, affordable housing and definitely not enough for a solar farm or Olympic pool, but there should be enough. Also, will a State levy for essential State infrastructure reduce even further the development contribution that is needed for community infrastructure?

 

Regional communities are also not getting enough community share of high development profits and are started to get angry like city communities about the NSW government supporting inequitable community share of high developer profits!  After many years of mostly ignored consultation feedback, objections and submissions on LEPs, DCPs, Planning Agreements, 2030 plans and Master Plans, even further degradation of the environment and liveability will be resisted.

2. For these reasons and more the BPN does not support site specific or spot rezoning planning proposals, as these cannot be properly assessed outside a broader LEP or master planning process. These planning proposals often set unsustainable precedents which a Planning Agreement cannot compensate for. To compound the problem, planning proposals and agreements are often inadequately notified in advance to the community even for those impacted near the development. Some councils publicise them only on their website as little as 6 days before Council makes a decision on them. A much longer public notification period is recommended.

3. The planning agreements that relate to these planning proposals are especially problematic as in some areas they would be seen to be a form of “legal bribery” to encourage councils to support an inappropriate development in return for some social infrastructure. Council budgets are constrained by state government rate capping and cost shifting making the promise of a new library, repairs to swimming pools etc. tempting. In other cases they are recommended for gateway by councils even though there is apparently totally inadequate provision for the community infrastructure needs that the developments require. These problems are now exacerbated by council revenue lost because of the COVID-19 restrictions and by continuing funding constraints from state and or federal governments.

4. BPN understands that the development industry would like more uniformity in the public value share or development contribution arrangements for public community infrastructure relating to planning proposals, but BPN accepts that the needs of different developments are varied depending on their location and the provision of state and council public infrastructure already existing or planned.

5. BPN cannot understand why the state government is still procrastinating in some areas about the application of a special infrastructure contribution (SIC) levy, whereas if it had been applied five years ago when originally discussed, it would have raised billions of dollars of funding that the state government desperately needs now for the infrastructure relating to that public development, including transport, affordable housing, water and energy services. This long delay has also caused some councils to agree to a lower public value share for development in their formulae as a result of an assumption that this SIC levy would be applied in the near future. There also has to be consideration of the different infrastructure needs in a CBD situation as compared to a more suburban situation. Also the land value uplift of a development in different areas will have different values per m2 for the same increase in FSR.

It is understood that in the ACT there was a formula in which the government received 75% of the value of land uplift in a planning proposal to adequately compensate for the resulting community infrastructure needs and in some places for example in some Canadian cities 100% of the land value uplift was required, to discourage unsustainable spot rezoning overdevelopment.

6. In keeping with the suggestion that one of the original intended functions of planning agreements was to fund innovative infrastructure solutions, the BPN suggests there could be some fair compensation arrangement for design excellence and high-performing energy and water efficiency building standards above and beyond the normal requirements (which should be improved by legislation), but in a form that doesn’t approve spot rezoning inconsistent with broader planning requirements.

7. Another problem with planning agreements arising from planning proposals is that often the provision of public open space from private ownership or public infrastructure although claimed to be freely available for public use often has access restricted in a manner that favours people in the private development and discourages public access. Planning agreements need to provide better design and enforcement of public access in such situations, such as to open space, exercise areas, swimming centres etc next to or sometimes within the private property including on roof tops. BPN suggests therefore that it would be good to make some reference in the Practice Note to such risks arising from in-kind works substituting for financial infrastructure contributions.

8. BPN is also concerned that sometimes planning agreements result in population densities per hectare that cause poor liveability and health conditions, particularly in cities on the east coastline, whereas better planning options may be further inland. Planning agreements should therefore have guidelines for affordable housing standards and funding, as well as a maximum density requirement of perhaps about 1,000 people per hectare, but there must be some flexibility for individual Local Government Areas.

9. Some Councils allow all Infrastructure Contributions to be replaced entirely by non-monetary Planning Agreements. While this can give more flexibility in the use of the development’s public contribution, the developer can then negotiate an Agreement that is less than the cost of a s7.11 or s7.12. Otherwise there is no benefit for the developer in doing so. In the end though, it is the community that loses out overall.

10. BPN is also concerned that infrastructure contributions in Planning Agreements often make insufficient provision for the burden Councils and communities face when developments use public spaces for waste bin storage regardless of whether they have sufficient provision for effective on-site management of waste or not. (included).

 

 

Practice Note Comments

 

Page 5 - There is reference here to Planning Agreements for Affordable Housing contributions. Affordable housing inclusion in Planning Agreements should be over and above any minimum requirements in District and Regional Plans. There should also be provision for Social Housing particularly in areas where rents in Affordable Housing are high. For example the most profitable Affordable Housing schemes in the past 15 years + have been in student housing. Minimum rents are around the $390 + for a small studio without a kitchen. Affordable housing allows for a percentage of market rent and the housing can be removed from the affordable housing market in 10 years. Social housing remains as social housing until the government makes a decision to sell as is the case at Millers Point, the Sirius building and shortly Waterloo. In the post COVID-19 environment, the need for housing that is affordable for people who have lost jobs, homeless people, people with special needs, people on pensions will be critical for social wellbeing.  Developers must contribute to supporting social cohesion and not focus only on maximising their profits from developments.

It also states here that the Practice Note is not applicable to mining projects, so this begs the question when will there be a Practice Note that applies adequate public benefits and protection to communities suffering unacceptable detriment from mining projects or in some cases, facing complete devastation? Currently insurance companies are resisting providing insurance to farmers whose land is subject to coal or CSG mining as the risk to their water, land and resulting viability of the farm is unacceptably high.

Page 6 – States that Planning Agreements “enable the NSW planning system to deliver sustainable development while achieving key economic, social and environmental objectives” and can provide “recurrent funding of public facilities provided by councils”. Unfortunately, BPN knows this is patently untrue. If developments in an area double the residential population of an area, is it seriously being suggested that development contributions in a Planning Agreement will be sufficient to double the area of public land for parks, reserves and bushland, double the capacity of local roads, footpaths, cycleways, libraries, community centres, playgrounds, utility services etc and provide ongoing recurrent funding for these?

 

2.1 Fundamental Principles

States that “ Public benefits offered by developers do not make unacceptable development acceptable”. This should be acknowledged, but sometimes the development may be acceptable in itself, but if (as the Practice Note says) “Strategic planning should ensure that development is supported by the infrastructure needed to meet the needs of the growing population” does not happens because inadequate public infrastructure contributions are provided, the development could be unacceptable.

“Planning agreements must be underpinned by proper strategic land use and infrastructure planning carried out on a regular basis and must address expected growth and the associated infrastructure demand.” This statement is removed from reality, as BPN members attest and simple observation demonstrates that the public benefit arising from developments almost always falls well short of what is needed to address “associated infrastructure demand”.

“The progression of a planning proposal or the approval of the development application should never be contingent on entering into a planning agreement.” So, is this why planning proposals are no longer considered to be voluntary? So developers can refuse a planning agreement and still expect council and the community to support the progression of a planning proposal or DA which provides inadequate infrastructure contribution and breaches usual planning constraints such as in an LEP?  BPN objects strongly to this dot point.

BPN also contests the proposed principle that “Planning agreements must not include public benefits wholly unrelated to the particular development” and suggests an amendment replacing “wholly” with “mostly”.

BPN also requests that an additional fundamental principle should be added which states that “Developments must contribute to a fair proportion of public facilities necessitated by the development, consistent with commonly used and accepted benchmark provision of public facilities for the related population increase.”

 

2.3  Value Capture

Although the reference to “the use of planning agreements for the primary purpose of value capture is not supported” is not unacceptable, the suggestion they “should not be used to capture land value uplift resulting from rezoning or variations to planning controls” is not acceptable to BPN, as this suggests for example, that 100% of the often millions of dollars of profit from a site-specific or spot zoning planning proposal should be retained by the land owner and/or developer, without any fair contribution to the additional associated public infrastructure necessitated by the population growth in that uplift. An acceptable development could be rendered unacceptable simply by insufficient related infrastructure contributions. BPN would prefer on the other hand, that site-specific and spot rezoning planning proposals be prohibited.

 

2.5 Acceptability Test

This section states that planning agreement outcomes are required to “ meet the general values and expectations of the public and protect the overall public interest”!

BPN supports this provision absolutely but has not seen much evidence that this test has been satisfied by most developments and is particularly concerned that in the current COVID-19 pandemic environment of fast tracked development that the public interest is being run rough shod over, for example by 24X7 construction noise, dust and other disruption caused to residents often confined to their dwellings due to pandemic restrictions, and by development approvals contrary to clear community and Council opposition for valid social and environmental reasons.

 

2.6 Policies & Procedures for Planning Agreements

BPN finds that there is gross hypocrisy in the suggestion here that these constitute “safeguards to protect the public interest and the integrity of the planning process“. Planning Agreement policies “should have published and accessible rules and procedures”, “provide for effective formalised public participation” and “extend fairness to all parties”, but BPN’s feedback is that this just does not happen adequately, as policies and procedures are complex, opaque and difficult to access, particularly given that staffing levels in councils are often insufficient for the community’s demand for information and explanation. There also needs to be strengthened accountability for regulatory compliance.

 

4.5 Public participation and notification

As referred to in 2.6 above, the public is at a great disadvantage because of the complexity and inaccessibility of policies and procedures, and this section of the Practice Note does little to improve this situation.

Planning proposals and agreements are often inadequately notified in advance to the community even for those impacted near the development, and before Council makes a decision on them, as some councils publicise them only on their website as little as 6 days in advance. BPN asks that his section be expanded with provision for improved timelines for public participation, wider public notification and increased notification periods including with community and environmental organisations.  

There should also be greater prescription of the support necessary for encouragement of the public to participate, such as information sessions, and plain English and other language explanations.

 

Part B - Improving the review of Local Infrastructure contributions plans discussion paper

 

BPN’s objectIves include advocating for the principles of ecologically sustainable development, community well-being and quality of life. However, BPN’s strong feedback from its members is that the density of development for some years is not providing anywhere near enough necessitated community infrastructure for the needs of people, for a healthy environment or for the enhancement of community well-being - social, environmental and economic. The BPN aims to ensure there is adequate opportunity for public involvement and participation in environmental planning and assessment, that protects our environment, including natural and cultural heritage, but believes that this requirement is not being satisfied by the current arrangements around planning agreements or the related planning proposals and development applications.

 

Examples of inadequate Infrastructure contribution from the land value uplift and profit from development:

(i) Central Newcastle Interchange – Wickham Street Development - footpaths of inadequate width and unsealed, not compliant for people with a disability. (See photos). This also highlights the need for stronger inspection and enforcement provisions to ensure in-kind works are properly compliant. Newcastle, the largest regional city already had a backlog of “$114 million of degraded, irrepairable infrastructure”in 2007 (Percy Allen Report) and cannot afford further degradation from inadequate development contributions.

(ii) Parramatta CBD - in 2017 Council estimated that even using rates, grants, previous section 94/94A and section 7.11/12 and public value share (development contribution) from planning agreements, for the current planning proposal build out there would still be a $200 million shortfall for community infrastructure required to support the developments. By 2020 the shortfall for necessitated community infrastructure has now been estimated to be at least $1 billion.

(iii) Suburban Fringe Greenfield Development at Minmi for 3,000 dwellings - It is understood there is nowhere near enough value capture for a library, community centre, shared pathways, district sport facility, cycleways, playgrounds, affordable housing and definitely not enough for a solar farm or Olympic pool, but there should be enough. Also, will a State levy for essential State infrastructure reduce even further the development contribution that is needed for community infrastructure?

 

Regional communities are also not getting enough community share of high development profits and are started to get angry like city communities about the NSW government supporting inequitable community share of high developer profits!  After many years of mostly ignored consultation feedback, objections and submissions on LEPs, DCPs, Planning Agreements, 2030 plans and Master Plans even further degradation of the environment and liveability will be resisted.

 

 

BPN seeks to have these issues rectified in any future planning agreements policy framework, by at the very least dramatically increasing section 7.11/7.12 levies and increasing the dollar threshold per dwelling unit significantly.

 

The current section 7.11 provision is completely out of date with increased costs of land acquisition for open spaces and construction of community infrastructure.

Of the proposed reforms, BPN believes that the best option is Option 3 for a $45,000 (per dwelling or lot) threshold on local s7.11 development contributions before the review process is triggered. This is because BPN believes that Councils receive insufficient funding from developments to provide the resulting necessitated community infrastructure and that having to do a review below $45,000 will create unnecessary planning process delays and impose an unnecessary burden on constrained Council resources. Further, BPN supports the indexation of this threshold in a manner that is appropriate to the increased infrastructure costs that Council would be required to provide.

 

Part C - Criteria to request a higher section 7.12 percentage discussion paper

 

BPN’s objectIves include advocating for the principles of ecologically sustainable development, community well-being and quality of life. However, BPN’s strong feedback from its members is that the density of development for some years is not providing anywhere near enough necessitated community infrastructure for the needs of people, for a healthy environment or for the enhancement of community well-being - social, environmental and economic. The BPN aims to ensure there is adequate opportunity for public involvement and participation in environmental planning and assessment, that protects our environment, including natural and cultural heritage, but believes that this requirement is not being satisfied by the current arrangements around planning agreements or the related planning proposals or development applications.

 

Examples of inadequate Infrastructure contribution from the land value uplift and profit from development:

(i) Central Newcastle Interchange – Wickham Street Development - footpaths of inadequate width and unsealed, not compliant for people with a disability. This also highlights the need for stronger inspection and enforcement provisions to ensure in-kind works are properly compliant. Newcastle, the largest regional city already had a backlog of “$114 million of degraded, irrepairable infrastructure”in 2007 (Percy Allen Report) and cannot afford further degradation from inadequate development contributions.

(ii) Parramatta CBD - in 2017 Council estimated that even using rates, grants, previous section 94/94A and current section 7.11/12 and public value share (development contributions) from planning agreements, for the current planning proposal build out there would still be a $200 million shortfall for community infrastructure required to support the developments. By 2020 the shortfall for necessitated community infrastructure has now been estimated to be at least $1 billion.

(iii) Suburban Fringe Greenfield Development at Minmi NSW, for 3,000 dwellings - It is understood there is nowhere near enough value capture for a library, community centre, pathways, district sport facility, cycleways, playgrounds, affordable housing and definitely not enough for a solar farm or Olympic pool, but there should be enough. Also, will a State levy for essential State infrastructure reduce even further the development contribution that is needed for community infrastructure?

 

Regional communities are also not getting enough community share of high development profits and are started to get angry like city communities about the NSW government supporting inequitable community share of high developer profits!  After many years of mostly ignored consultation feedback, objections and submissions on LEPs, DCPs, Planning Agreements, 2030 plans and Master Plans even further degradation of the environment and liveability will be resisted.

 

 

BPN seeks to have these issues rectified in any future planning agreements policy framework, by at the very least dramatically increasing section 7.11/12 levies and increasing the dollar threshold per dwelling unit or lot significantly.

 

Consistent with the BPN’s view expressed frequently that inadequate provision is made for development contributions towards the cost of infrastructure needed to support that development, s7.12 contributions generally need to be increased. BPN also thinks that the proposed criteria and evidence to assist the assessment and determination of an increased maximum percentage of s7.12 levies in specific areas are reasonable. BPN is however concerned that in some areas that the currently proposed 3% maximum is totally insufficient, especially if there is to be no associated development land value uplift capture.

 

Part D - Draft Special Infrastructure Contributions (SIC) guidelines

 

Although BPN supports a SIC levy in principle, provided it is genuinely used for state infrastructure that improves the value of property in the area of its application, BPN is concerned that given the inadequate funding of local infrastructure necessitated by developments that the SIC levy not reduce the local public value share benefit required from the relevant development. This should not happen if the state SIC levy is strictly reflective of a fair proportion of land value uplift arising from the relevant state infrastructure being built or needing to be provided because of the development.

 

BPN believes it is important that the SIC be guided by principles that have been subject to wide community consultation and which are transparent and subject to the same or preferably improved accountability principles required of councils.

 

BPN cannot understand why the state government is still procrastinating in some areas about the application of a special infrastructure contribution (SIC) levy whereas if it had been applied five years ago when originally discussed, it would have raised billions of dollars of funding that the state government desperately needs now for the infrastructure needs of that public development, including transport, water and energy services. This long delay has also caused some councils to agree to a lower public value share for development in their formulas as a result of an assumption that this SIC levy would be applied in the near future. There also has to be consideration of the different infrastructure needs in a CBD situation as compared to a more suburban situation.

 

SIC funds should also be available at the beginning of the process for development applications.

 

Part E - Proposed amendments to the EP&A Regulation

 

The BPN supports relevant amendments to the EP&A Regulation needed as a result of BPN‘s views expressed in Parts A-D of the Review of Infrastructure Contributions, provided these are subject to a good period of public consultation and that relevant community and environmental organisations are informed of these proposed changes. There also needs to be strengthened accountability for and enforcement of regulatory compliance of developments.

All of the changes recommended by the Review and proposed in the Regulation should be well publicised and explained in information sessions provided by the Department of Planning Industry and Environment well before implementation, as well as after.

Share

Submission on Bankstown Station modification

One of BPN's supporters recently made this submission on the Bankstown Station modification:

 


EAGLE PARTNERS
TRANSPORT CONSULTANTS
21 ST. GEORGES CRESCENT, DRUMMOYNE, NSW, 2047

 

BANKSTOWN STATION MODIFICATION
MODIFICATION REPORT – MAY 2020
APPLICATION – SSI-8256-Mod-1
PROPONENT – SYDNEY METRO

f – MetroBtown5-20

To-

Secretary

Department of Planning, Industry and Environment

via Major Projects website -  https://majorprojects.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/prweb/IAC/0_c4J8YBXPy486yZyiOGNA%5B%5B*/!STANDARD?pzPostData=808329158

 

Dear Sir,

Submission No – SUB – 11529

In the Sydney press of 21 May 2020, a Sydney Metro display advertisement invited public submissions on a proposal to modify the design of an already-approved upgrade of  Bankstown railway station to “Metro” standards.  The closing date for submissions was 4 June 2020.   This submission is in response to that advertisement.

1 – We query why it is planned to diverge the Metro tracks at their western end  AT THIS POINT IN TIME.  (The possible need to diverge the tracks for the extension of Metro at some future time is acknowledged).  Keeping the tracks close together would provide a solution to Item 2....

2 – The circulation space for passengers at the western end of the Metro platforms appears to be grossly inadequate, at about 4 metres wide, for the contra-flowing streams of passengers leaving a just-terminated Metro train, and those persons attempting to approach the same train for boarding.  Keeping the tracks close together would solve this problem by enabling a substantial widening of each Metro platform.

3 – In order to minimise travel times for Metro passengers, provision should be made for Metro passengers to enter and exit both Metro platforms at their eastern end.  (Initial promotions for Sydney Metro, circa 2011, made much of the need to minimise door-to-door travel times in order to make Metro attractive.  That ideal seems to have slipped off the policy agenda.)

4 – Passenger transfer between Metro and Sydney Trains' services would be greatly enhanced by the provision of a gate-free, “paid-area” over- or under-pass between the Metro platforms and Sydney Trains' platforms.  It could substantially reduce pedestrian congestion in the public space connecting The Appian Way and Restwell Street

 

We have made no declarable political donation in the past 2 years.

 

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Eadie

Partner
Eagle Partners
21 St Georges Cres.
Drummoyne, NSW,  2047.

26 May 2020.

 

 

 

Share

The Real Spatial Planner of Sydney

Capture.png

On the 30th of April 2015, Dr Tim Williams, Chief Executive of the Committee for Sydney gave a presentation at the University of Sydney in which he lambasted the WestConnex motorway project being pursued under Premier Mike Baird and advocated fiercely for a more ambitious public transport agenda in order to reduce car dependency. Despite his sensible remarks being entirely in agreement with intelligent urban planners around the world, within a week he was pressured to apologise by Lucy Turnbull, Chair of the Committee for Sydney.

Dr Williams presentation is archived here.

A letter 'clarifying' Dr Williams talk was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 4th of May 2015, as follows:

Committee backs well-integrated WestConnex

The Committee for Sydney has been a strong supporter of the state government's unprecedented level of investment in public transport, roads and other key infrastructure essential to managing Sydney's future growth ("WestConnex may spur better project", May 4). We recognise the greatest share of this investment is in improving the rail transport system.

The Committee for Sydney board and chief executive would like to clarify that Tim William's talk on April 30 expressed his personal opinion. We have long supported the principle of a well-integrated WestConnex project which combines improved travel times and reduced congestion, and enables the creation of more housing and urban renewal along Parramatta Road.

Such transformational projects are vital to Sydney and the challenges of cross-government co-ordination, communication and leadership required to realise them should not be underestimated.

Lucy Hughes Turnbull chair, Committee for Sydney
Tim Williams chief executive, Committee for Sydney

Later that year, Premier Baird rewarded Turnbull by appointing her as the Chief Commissioner of the newly formed Greater Sydney Commission, charged with overseeing planning and development across Sydney. In 2016, she came under fire for being completely ignorant of WestConnex's destruction of heritage homes in Haberfield, Australia's first successful planned 'model suburb'.

As of 2020, the WestConnex motorway construction continues apace despite widespread opposition and even described by transport expert Dr Chris Standen as 'the biggest waste of public funds for corporate gain in Australian history'. Sydney's inadequate rail transport system continues to be plagued by serious failures and overcrowding. This shameful episode in Sydney's planning history should never be forgotten.

Share

News Archive

Archive from our former website follows:

The BPN News Archive contains news items from 2012 to 2014 from the former BPN website. We have kept these so there is an historical record of BPN's activities during this time and of the battle over the proposed New Planning System.

Some of the links in the News archive may no longer work.

Read more
Share