June 25, 2020
South Burnett Regional Council will review its infrastructure charges after a neighbouring Council announced it will waive them for the next two years to attract new businesses.
On Wednesday, Western Downs Regional Council announced infrastructure charges would be waived on priority developments as part of a new policy to drive economic growth across the region.
Infrastructure charges apply to approvals for any Material Change Of Use to recover Council costs associated with upgrades to trunk infrastructure networks as a result of development.
WDRC Deputy Mayor Cr Andrew Smith said the policy would give a strong incentive to industries looking to set up operations in the Western Downs, and existing businesses to expand.
“We’ve seen an incredible response to Council’s COVID-19 Recovery Package announced in May, and we want to build on this support and continue our efforts to generate economic activity right across the region,” Cr Smith said.
“Our region has had it tough in recent years, and as a Council we want to make sure we’re doing all we can to give the region the economic certainty it needs to recover, while building a stronger future for the Western Downs.
“There has never been a better time than now to develop in the Western Downs with Council also waiving Planning Application Fees.”
Cr Smith said the temporary incentive was a means of encouraging progression and completion of new and existing approvals in targeted growth industries.
“The aim is to ultimately increase investment to the region; accelerate development; create more jobs and in turn increase our population,” he said.
“We also want to give certainty to the community that the job will be done, which is why Council will be ensuring those developments which are eligible for the waiving of infrastructure charges are completed and operating within two years under the policy terms, and are compliant with the conditions of approval.”
Ali Davenport, the CEO of Toowoomba Surat Basin Enterprise, said the announcement was excellent news for businesses and investors right around the country.
“It shows that this Council will do everything they can to ensure jobs and growth in their region,” Ms Davenport said.
“Waiving infrastructure charges for selected industries plus the WDRC record turnaround times for development applications is a clear signal to investors that this Council is serious about creating opportunities.”
The Infrastructure Charges Incentive Scheme will be offered over a two-year period.
On Thursday, South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto said his immediate concern was to ensure the South Burnett was not put at a competitive disadvantage by the Western Downs scheme.
“We want to attract new industries and encourage our existing industries to expand here, not move out of our region,” he said.
The Mayor said Council had already been looking at its infrastructure charges as part of this year’s Budget preparations, which involved a whole-of-council analysis.
In light of Western Downs’ announcement, he said it might be timely to review how the South Burnett stacked up against neighbouring councils.
Mayor Otto said Council would be taking a new approach to economic development this yearand potential incentives to attract new industries would be part of that brief.