Council pushes for levy on Aerotropolis developments

Penrith Council General Manager Warwick Winn. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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An estimated $2.6 billion worth of local infrastructure is needed to support the Aerotropolis, but a pressing question remains: who’s going to pay for it?

While it awaits further details on the State Government’s Special Infrastructure Contributions (SIC), Penrith Council – in collaboration with Liverpool Council – is moving to ensure its ratepayers are not left footing the bill.

Currently on exhibition until November 30, Penrith Council’s draft Aerotropolis Development Contributions Plan seeks to ensure it can collect development contributions to put towards roads, stormwater and public amenities.

To capture the needed funds, Council has proposed a 6.5 per cent rate levy on developments above $200,000, based on the approximate $39 billion worth of development projected in the Aerotropolis’ initial precincts.

General Manager Warwick Winn said Council was facing a “real dilemma” and was attempting to prevent a troubling trend from continuing.

“NSW has a very sorry history of allowing things to get away without a proper contributions plan attached to it, and then there’s just no way to play catch up, and in the west we have suffered with that for decades,” he said.

“Unfortunately the land has been zoned without a DCP or contributions plan underneath it. The challenges we face now with the DAs coming in, is because we don’t have a contributions plan ourselves, we can’t level any money.”

But the inclusion of a fixed rate without the word “indicative” or “up to” did not bode well with multiple Councillors, who feared it could curb potential investment and business in the area, suggesting Council wait to see the SIC.

In the end however, the original motion prevailed nine votes to four.
Mayor Karen McKeown said Council was being upfront with industry and the government around what is needed and the associated costs.

“We’re building a new city that’s expected to have significant growth, inadequate infrastructure will limit the region’s potential and will leave an unwanted legacy on Penrith ratepayers and Council,” she said.

Council will require ministerial approval before it can implement a Section 7.12 levy in excess of one per cent of the cost of development.

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