A KEY report has been delivered to the State Government, outlining reforms to simplify and streamline infrastructure charges for new developments, address housing affordability and improve business confidence in Queensland.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Local Government and Planning Paul Lucas says the independent Infrastructure Charges Taskforce had delivered 10 significant recommendations that aimed to simplify and standardise the way local government infrastructure charges were calculated.
"The report recommends a range of short and long term measures to make the infrastructure charging system simpler and more transparent and should help drive down development costs in Queensland," says Lucas.
"Infrastructure charges can add up to $40,000 or more to the cost of a new home and the aim of this sweeping review is to give developers and the community more confidence that the charges are fair and reasonable.
"The taskforce's recommendations cover the full spectrum of development types from houses to shops to industrial sites.
"The flexibility that local governments have in terms of choosing whether to subsidise infrastructure charging to stimulate construction or even charge lower than the maximum amounts will be a central element of this reform package."
Lucas is calling on both councils and developers to carefully consider the recommendations in a constructive light.
"With this report, the State Government is seeking to resolve seemingly irreconcilable differences between councils and developers," he says.
"Most State Governments levy significant infrastructure charges, but here in Queensland there is only the relatively modest DTMR Local Function Charge in some local government areas. Overwhelmingly charges are levied by Councils.
"Despite this being largely a matter between developers and local councils, the State Government is committed to sorting out this issue so we can continue to see development in Queensland which brings jobs and housing affordability."
The report's recommendations include:
•Setting a maximum charge of between $20,000 and $30,000 per house for trunk infrastructure (water, sewerage, stormwater, roads and parks) in residential developments, rather than an inconsistent range of charges varying across local governments
•Setting maximum charges per square meter for trunk infrastructure for retail, commercial and industrial buildings, entertainment and other non-residential developments
•Setting standard maximum charges for three years, increasing in line with a set index
•Placing a moratorium on the collection of fees for use of state roads
•Introducing deferred payments so developers can pay for trunk infrastructure later providing better cash flows
The taskforce undertook extensive consultation with local governments and the development industry to formulate the recommendations.
Lucas says the new arrangements would eliminate variation in the way councils develop these charges.
"The State Government will now weigh up all the recommendations carefully before releasing a response shortly," he says.
"I would like to thank taskforce members for their significant personal commitments to the project."
The taskforce met 14 times since it was established in June last year, and its members were Paul Low (chair), Jude Munro, Greg Hallam, John Mulcahy, Chris Freeman, Grant Dennis, Alex Beavers, Warren Rowe and Jim Long.
Overhauling Queensland's Infrastructure charging regime was one of the key initiatives to come out of the State Government's Growth Management Summit in March 2010.
The Government has also agreed to extend the current 30 June 2011 deadline for the adoption of Priority Infrastructure Plans (and the expiry of infrastructure charge planning scheme policies) to 31 December 2011.
The Infrastructure Charges Taskforce report is available at www.dip.qld.gov.au/ict
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