Voluntary Planning Agreements require clarity

Following submissions made earlier this year by the Property Council, Voluntary Planning Agreements (VPAs) will be made more transparent following an announcement by Minister for Planning Rob Stokes at a Property Council forum this afternoon

The Minister announced today that amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act will put in place tighter controls on how the VPAs are negotiated to ensure clarity and consistency.

VPAs are entered into by a planning authority and a developer and are a useful component of a flexible planning system. On the downside, used improperly they can be used to demand excessive infrastructure contributions from developers that, amongst other things, increase the final cost of apartments and houses.

Property Council NSW Executive Director Jane Fitzgerald said today that while the Property Council and its members strongly support VPAs used well, more clarity and transparency is needed about how they should, and shouldn’t, be used.

“VPAs are an important mechanism to secure the flexible and timely delivery of infrastructure and to unlock the economic value of land.”

“However, we need to take care to ensure that planning authorities aren’t incentivised to misuse VPAs and that their misuse is penalised if and when it comes to light.”

“Extra costs arising out of the planning system add to the final price of a house or apartment, worsening the affordability crisis in NSW.” Ms Fitzgerald said

“There should be an expectation that levies on development be reasonable and we need to constrain the capacity for VPAs to be used as a vehicle for excessive charges.”

 “We must set better disciplines around the scope and type of infrastructure to be funded by development, revive a ‘use it or lose it’ principle for infrastructure contributions, institute clarity and transparency around the process and adopt contemporary solution such as growth area bonds.”

“The Property Council looks forward to working with Minister Stokes and the NSW government further on these new amendments.”

Media contact: William Power| M 0429 210 982 | E wpower@propertycouncil.com.au