The latest Property Council research on local government charges reveals further inconsistencies in charging regimes throughout Queensland.
The report, which is expected to be finalised in the next month, supplements earlier Property Council research on development assessment fees by comparing post-lodgment charges across local governments.
Preliminary results indicate that there is a lack of consistency between the processes and fees associated with progressing development proposals in the post initial application stage in local governments in Queensland.
The report compares charges for hypothetical case studies including:
- operational works such as roads and drainage, water, sewerage and landscaping/vegetation;
- construction management;
- technical reports, including those dealing with traffic, economic, environmental and hydraulic issues;
- plan sealing; and
- contributions for sewerage headworks, and parkland.
The difficulty in finding consistency of charges even within local government areas can be summed up in a statement by one council representative that the quantum and range of charges "depends upon who we like".
Although some of the uncertainty associated with infrastructure contributions should be resolved with the introduction of Infrastructure Charges Plans (ICPs), the fees for administrative tasks, such as plan sealing and reviewing expert reports will remain unaffected.
The Property Council recently met with the Hon Nita Cunningham, the Minister for Local Government, to discuss the development assessment fees research and the difficulties imposed upon the property and development industry as a result of uncertainty of fees between local government areas.
The Minister's response indicated a preference to focus on proposed amendments to IPA and deal with the issue of development assessment fees at a later stage.
The Property Council recognises the importance of the proposed amendments to the Integrated Planning Act which would assist local governments in the preparation of planning schemes and Infrastructure Charges Plans.
However, this should not be an excuse for some local governments to continue to charge excessive fees.
The Hon Terry Mackenroth, in introducing the Property Council’s IPA Roadmap in 1998 as then Minister for Local Government, explained the importance of land use to the State’s economic activity and how the Integrated Planning Act would assist in meeting the Government’s employment target.
Further, at the time of finalisation of IPA the Government stated that the industry would save more than $187 million over 10 years through efficiency gains.
Reduced bureaucracy and approvals that meet the requirements of local government schemes were less likely to be subject to political interference than anywhere else in the nation.
The Property Council will continue to work towards the industry receiving some of those benefits.