The Property Council of Australia has congratulated NSW Planning Minister, Rob Stokes, for having the courage to make sweeping changes to the final Hunter Regional Plan released today. Hunter Director, Andrew Fletcher, said two draft plans released in March this year had come under fire for being “uninspiring waffle that could have been written by the script writers of Utopia”.

He said the draft plans had lacked the hard-edged accountability, performance and implementation measures needed to meet the growth challenge.

 “The Government said they would listen and today’s announcement by the Minister proves that to be the case.”

 Fletcher said that dropping the name Hunter City was the first no-brainer.

 “Thankfully common-sense has prevailed and that continuous urban area spanning several Council boundaries gets it’s rightful title of Greater Newcastle”.

 “The metropolitan planning model is a good move for making the most efficient use of infrastructure.”

 Fletcher said the Government’s approach reflected how the Lower Hunter has shifted from a regional centre to a metropolitan city.

 While details of the plan would be analysed over coming days, Fletcher said it appeared the Government had accepted each of the Property Council’s key recommendations.

 “Importantly, the Government has signalled they want a new culture of accountability to be front-and-centre, putting HDC in charge of implementation and requiring a new level of transparent reporting on progress against targets.”

 Fletcher said that industry also welcomed the Minister’s announcement of a discussion paper to be released on developer contributions to fund infrastructure.

 “Hunter developers have been paying this tax on greenfield residential development since 2011.”

 “But application of the scheme has been wildly inconsistent and there is no clear nexus to timely infrastructure provision.”

 “It makes investors very reluctant to tackle the urban fringes, because these charges distort the housing market and make developing the land uneconomic.”

 Fletcher said the Property Council’s submission had insisted a smarter approach to developer contributions was needed to solve the region’s chronic housing shortage and ease the affordability crisis.

 Media contact:  Andrew Fletcher | M  0407 410 017 |  E  [email protected]