Council questioned

SHELLHARBOUR City's civic leaders have hit back after Planning Minister Brad Hazzard took the unexpected step of writing to the council, calling for it to "justify" its proposed development contributions plan.

This follows the Land and Environment Court's decision to approve the first stage of the controversial Calderwood Urban Development Project.

The council adopted an updated Section 94 Contributions Plan to help pay for the provision of new facilities throughout the city last Tuesday night.

The new plan, a result of a review of the existing one, has also taken into account proposed development in the Calderwood area up to 2028, making provision for infrastructure for the projected population.

The Section 94 Plan will help fund the provision of a city library, civic auditorium and administration building on the City Hub site.

Mr Hazzard recently wrote to the council, requesting it demonstrate that the court's decision of August 15 on development contributions for Calderwood had been taken into account.

The council opposed developer Lend Lease's plans for the 4800-dwelling development west of Albion Park.

Mr Hazzard said the judgment set the amount for contributions for residential dwellings in stage one of the development, as well as guidance on how contributions should be calculated for the remainder of the 700-hectare Calderwood site.

"As a party to the court proceedings, I want to be absolutely certain that any local infrastructure contributions plan adopted by council is prepared in accordance with the court decision," Mr Hazzard said.

"The Calderwood site will play a key role in providing much-needed housing for the Shellharbour local government area, with a concept plan approved for around 4800 homes across the site."

Proposed contributions for Calderwood fell from $18,265 per lot or dwelling in the initial draft plan to $14,298 following the court decision, with 231 residential lots proposed for stage one.

The reduction includes components of financial benefit for the developers, such as a reduction in the design and cost estimate for the Albion Park Bypass being amended to reflect the agreed position of the parties during the court case.

This has resulted in a reduction of $1683 per lot or dwelling.

At issue is whether costs for facilities identified should be spread over the full 4800 dwellings proposed for Calderwood by 2036 or, as the council maintains, across the number of dwellings expected within the life of the Section 94 plan, which ends in 2028.

The council argues only 855 dwellings will be constructed in Calderwood by 2028.

Development levies for greenfield sites - and the council argues Calderwood is one - are capped at $30,000.

The council said the court's decision on how contributions would be for stage one was made in the absence of an adopted Section 94 plan or other planning agreement.

At the meeting, Mayor Marianne Saliba said she was "baffled" by the minister's actions.

Council general manager Michael Willis said the council had taken into consideration all aspects of the court's judgment.

"Council does not agree with the Commissioner's guidance that the cost of the Albion Park Bypass should be spread across all 4800 lots proposed for Calderwood," he said.

"Council has commenced without prejudice discussions with Lend Lease about a whole-of-project voluntary planning agreement."

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