Confidence in NSW approvals shaken by government admission

19 October 2009

The NSW governments admission today that its approval of the 7,200-home Huntlee New Town project is invalid will damage investor confidence, according to the Urban Taskforce.

The Taskforces chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said investors in NSW needed to be able to bank on state government approvals, particularly major approvals issued under Part 3A of the states planning laws.


Its extremely disappointing that the state government failed to issue a valid approval.


Planning approvals, once issued, are a property right that affects land valuation.


The fact that any planning approval, let alone a Part 3A approval, can so easily be set aside further weakens the already tenuous position of property rights in this state.


The governments decision not to defend the Part 3A approval followed a recent court decision striking down an approval for a development at Catherine Hill Bay.


Mr Gadiel said the Huntlee New Town project, like the Catherine Hill Bay project, included a land swap.


Land swaps provide an opportunity to turn private land into public parks, nature reserves, roads, footpaths and foreshore areas, he said.


Land swaps are crucial to a wide range of development proposals.


The Catherine Hill Bay court decision did not oppose land swaps, as such.


The court highlighted that NSW planning law permits agreements which can facilitate land swaps.


However, the existing statutory process was, regrettably, not used by the Department of Planning in either of these cases.


The central issue in these two cases is not the value of land swaps, but the quality of the administrative process adopted by the Department of Planning.


The Urban Taskforce is a property development industry group, representing Australias most prominent property developers and equity financiers.


For every $1 million in construction expenditure, 27 jobs are created throughout the broader economy. The construction activity made possible by property developers contributes $69 billion to the national economy each year and creates 709,000 direct jobs. The construction industry is Australias third largest source of employment.


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