What can be done about excessive development contributions?

A common complaint from those involved in land development is the amount they are required to pay for development contributions. Historically, there have been limited options available to formally challenge these contributions. However, this has recently changed through amendments to the Local Government Act.

There is now a formal process that provides two options for any person that does not agree with a development contributions assessment:
1. Reconsideration - request that the council reconsider a development contribution assessment
2. Objection - make a formal objection to a development contribution that is considered by an independent decision maker

The reconsideration process is a useful tool where the assessment contains an obvious error that need to be rectified. This may relate to the information that was relied upon, the calculations that were completed, or how the development contributions policy has been applied.

The objection process is a more formal step that can be taken instead of (or following) the reconsideration process. It involves preparation of evidence and may include a hearing before an independent commissioner appointed by the Minister of Local Government. The commissioner has a wide range of considerations it can take into account when deciding whether to uphold an objection that extend beyond correct application of the policy.

Both of these processes are useful and formalise a process for challenging development contributions that was previously at the Council’s discretion. However, the flip side is that any application for a reconsideration or objection must be lodged within strict time limits of receiving notice of the level of contribution required. If these deadlines are missed, the ability to challenge the assessment will be lost.

If you are involved in property development, it is important that you are aware of these opportunities and act promptly upon receipt of a development contribution notice. In our experience, errors are not uncommon and the assessment should be checked against the applicable development contributions policy to determine whether there is any basis for a challenge.

Posted on Thursday 2nd July, 2015 at 11:22 am