PLANNING

Major Changes to Gold Coast Infrastructure Charges!

By Noel Grummitt
Principal

This week promises to be one of the most significant weeks in the development industry on the Gold Coast.

Council is intending to bring down their much awaited changes to Infrastructure charges before they go into recess on Friday, with a report proposed to planning committee on Wednesday. Given the well-publicised difficulty they have been experiencing in working out the details (the announcement has been deferred more than once), it is likely to not give everything the industry would like but, notwithstanding, anything that facilitates getting projects up and running quickly is great for our industry. We believe the changes should also be positive for our community and charitable sector clients and colleagues.

We heard from the special minister for planning reform, Ian Walker, that the amendments would be very targeted towards getting State referral issues distilled to a singular State referral agency response…

The other key issues are occurring in State Government with the premier announcing this morning that tomorrow’s budget will have significant assistance to the industry. Also amendments to the planning act provisions are also scheduled to be tabled on the floor of parliament tomorrow. We heard from the special minister for planning reform, Ian Walker, recently with a group of Gold Coast planners and architects, that the amendments would be very targeted towards getting State referral issues distilled to a singular State referral agency response and that new dispute resolution measures may be involved – all helpful. (More significant amendments to the planning act are due to go to Parliament in February 2013, which will deal with infrastructure charging and the expediting of Council assessment.)

Keep in touch with local and Brisbane media this week to pick up on these significant changes that will hopefully see the green shoots start to grow and see our industry up and working again.

State Budget

After all the negative media re the state of the State economy (reflected in the downgrading of our credit rating today), there was little hope of significant stimulus for the development industry but the changes to the first home owner’s grant is certainly good news for new home construction which should stimulate employment in domestic residential development.

New State Legislation

Changes to the planning legislation were tabled in Parliament yesterday. I will do a review of the 130+ pages of legislation and explanatory information in coming days but media statements indicate some significant changes, perhaps the most significant being that a losing party in a planning appeal could, “where the Court sees fit” be liable for all costs. This is a massive disincentive for community groups to be involved in P&E Court matters, so I will check the fine print to see what checks and balances are provided to not shackle legitimate community interest appeals. Greater access to “no cost” mediation for community groups and individuals is a welcome change. A single state referral entity will simplify processing and changes to state resources entitlements are overdue and welcome.

Council Infrastructure Charging - GCCC

Council will vote today on changes to infrastructure charging that will be of significant benefit to the development industry on the Gold Coast, including, for smaller residential and commercial developments, a 100% holiday on all but water and sewer charges for development substantially started between October 1 and April 1 next and a 50% holiday for the following 6 months. More significant perhaps will be the 100% holiday for ALL charges for non-residential development starting in existing commercial premises with community groups still eligible for 50% of water and sewer charges. Changes commence on October 01.

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