Urban Taskforce | 2006/2007 Achievements

2006-07 was marked with some key wins for the urban development industry, and the wider community who enjoy the benefits of new homes, shopping centres, commercial office space and industrial development.

On the back of successive interest rate rises, the Urban Taskforce campaigned for an urgent State government rescue package to bring back confidence in the development industry by:
  • Urgently releasing more land to create supply;
  • Cutting red tape and holding costs which can add up to 15 per cent to overall costs; and
  • Slashing government charges such as section 94 contributions and other developer levies.

The State Government ultimately responded on all three issues including significant cuts in developer, local and state charges and the release of the Improving the NSW Planning System discussion paper in November 2007.

Other key achievements for the year include:
  • Reform of BASIX for apartment buildings: We successfully made the case for more realistic energy efficiency targets for high rise apartment buildings. The NSW Government accepted Urban Taskforces position that achieving a 20 per cent reduction against the state-wide average is an effective cut of 50 per cent for high rise buildings.
  • More liberal land release program: The introduction of a more liberal policy on land release to make land more affordable for young families, including first home buyers in the northwest and southwest growth centres in Sydney.
  • Federal involvement: We pushed hard for the Commonwealth to spend some of its $17 billion surplus on infrastructure like water, sewers and roads to drive down expensive State levies. The campaign ultimately led to an election commitment by the now-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, for a federal housing affordability fund, backed by extra Commonwealth funding.
  • State Property Authority: Our push for a central expert property agency to promote the redevelopment of underutilised state property had some success, with the creation of the new State Property Authority. However, it is clear that there is more to be done.
  • Threatened species: Weve backed the introduction of biobanking a new kind of offsets scheme. It has the potential to make development in areas with small patches of threatened species or threatened species habitat more viable, by removing the need for intensive threatened species assessment in certain circumstances. Were also continuing to push for greater rigour and accountability with regard to decisions to list threatened species.
  • Streamlining DAs: The Taskforce won amendments to Part 3A of the Environment Planning and Assessment Act to clarify when the Planning Minister should be involved in projects of State significance. The amendments prevented a doubling of the processing times for these projects.
  • Extra funding: The Taskforce helped secure increased funding to the NSW Department of Planning and the Growth Centres Commission, helping these agencies get on with the job of rezoning and assessment of applications and the delivery of services to residential and employment lands.