Funding future infrastructure top of the agenda with population and development set to boom

25 Oct 2021

An improved framework to fund future community infrastructure will be considered by the elected Council at tonight’s Ordinary Council Meeting, to support 23,000 new residents by 2036.

The new Section 7.11 and 7.12 Development Contributions Plans propose that new developments reasonably contribute towards the cost of community infrastructure like roads, footpaths, sporting facilities, parks and playgrounds to support new residents and growth across the city.

City of Newcastle Manager Regulatory, Planning and Assessment Michelle Bisson said the draft Development Contribution Plans gained in principle support from key industry groups during recent public exhibition.

“Our Development Contribution Plans are needed to fund future infrastructure and bring Newcastle in line with neighbouring Councils, and have been met with complimentary feedback by key stakeholders,” Ms Bisson said.

"Newcastle will see 23,000 new residents and 11,500 new dwellings by 2036, and we need to ensure public infrastructure keeps pace with growth and is equitably funded, to ensure current ratepayers aren’t financially burdened by infrastructure requirements as a result of future development.

“Industry groups recognise the future population growth over the next 15 years will create demand for new and improved transport, community and social infrastructure, and they are generally supportive of this new framework that sets reasonable contributions to support the supply of new infrastructure in areas where developments occur.

“From the first of January, contributions from the new Plans will be used to fund vital community infrastructure over the next 15 years as our urbanised city evolves and continues to grow, including the cycleway network, pedestrian accessibility and mobility network, local area traffic management works, bus shelters, parks and playgrounds, sporting grounds and recreation facilities, and town centre public domain improvements."

An additional $6.5 million per year is expected to be raised for investment in essential roads, sporting facilities and playgrounds for the Newcastle community's benefit, whilst contributions rates will remain less than surrounding Councils.

Whilst there has been a recent boom in development applications as residents have undertaken minor renovations during the COVID lockdown, minor works under $200,000 undertaken on existing residential dwellings will not be affected.

Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) Chief Executive NSW Steve Mann said it is pleasing that the City of Newcastle has, in recent years, been investing heavily in local infrastructure.

“City of Newcastle’s spending on local infrastructure has recently been outpacing its developer contributions," Mr Mann said.

"So whilst we are always concerned by any increase in the rate of development contributions and the impact on housing affordability that the new plan may have, UDIA does not oppose the introduction of a new Section 7.11 plan to ensure the city can continue to deliver for its residents.

“UDIA is keen to work with City of Newcastle to ensure they continue to spend the contributions for the purpose for which they are collected.”

In the 2020/21 financial year, City of Newcastle collected $3.35 million in development contributions (outside of the Western Corridor). In the same period, City of Newcastle spent $13.2 million on identified infrastructure and priority projects.