Mayor warns of build threat
NEW housing development on the Tweed could be halted because Tweed Shire Council does not have the funds to widen roads or provide a range of facilities needed for a larger population.
Tweed Mayor Warren Polglase has warned the council may have to impose a development moratorium following the NSW Government’s decision this week to strictly enforce a $20,000 cap on council fees for each new block of land that developers put on the market.
NSW Government introduced the fee in a bid to make new house prices more affordable, but councils across the state say it will add pressure for increases in rates which now have to be approved by the state’s Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal.
Cr Polglase said the council would either have to halt development, provide development without sufficient infrastructure or raise rates.
“The people who are already here will have to pay for the people who want to come here,” Cr Polglase warned.
“Anything above $20,000 will have to come from the general fund or we don’t do it.
“That will put a stranglehold on development on the Tweed.
“People will demand facilities. They will be saying ‘why can’t we have a bigger library’ or ‘where’s the community centre?’.
“They are costs we previously got from the developer.”
But the move seems set to split Tweed’s seven councillors, with former mayor Joan van Lieshout yesterday warning there were good reasons to try to keep house prices down, especially for young people seeking their first home.
“Today it’s so expensive. There’s nothing under $400,00 for young-married couples,” Cr van Lieshout said.
“That’s why families are being put on hold. Both parents have to work to pay the mortgage.”
Cr van Lieshout said the Council should not be looking at developer contributions as the main source of income for infrastructure.
But she added: “At the same time we have to make it possible for ratepayers to benefit from development in the shire.
“It’s an old story. Contributions in this particular shire have been known to be exorbitant .
“We have got to remember we can’t bite the hand that feeds us.”
Greens Party councillor Katie Milne said it is “absolutely ridiculous” to suggest developer fees pushed up the cost of land.
“We have got some of the highest prices in New South Wales,” Cr Milne said. “They sell a property for what they can get. They can get a lot on the Tweed.”
Cr Milne said council staff had only just realised they had “totally under-budgeted for road infrastructure” and the council was “struggling with the budget as it is”.