South Burnett Regional Council will offer discounted infrastructure charges and a range of other incentives until June 30, 2022, in an effort to supercharge development in the region
South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto

December 2, 2020

South Burnett Regional Council is hoping to supercharge development over the next 18 months by slashing charges and streamlining its planning and development processes.

At Council’s November meeting, Councillors voted to introduce a development incentive scheme that will run from December 1, 2020, through to June 30, 2022.

A key aim of the scheme is to encourage real estate developers to release new residential blocks.

Another aim is to encourage more businesses to set up in the region – particularly job-creating industries.

The policy was developed after Councillors held wide-ranging discussions with builders, developers and businesses.

The talks aimed to find out what challenges they faced and how Council could improve its planning and development processes to help them.

Mayor Brett Otto said a major issue that emerged from the talks was Council infrastructure charges.

Under existing arrangements, developers have to pay 100 per cent of the cost of connecting their lots to Council’s infrastructure systems (ie. water, sewerage) before development can proceed.

This meant they faced substantial up-front costs which often could not be recovered for many years until the lots were sold.

The same barriers also affected rural industries, where the cost of upgrading roadworks could be substantial.

Under the incentive scheme, the Council will offer a:

  • 50 per cent discount for any commercial use or industrial activity development
  • 50 per cent discount for long-term employment-generating development
  • 75 per cent discount for reconfiguring a lot for residential development
  • 100 per cent discount for residential development in a Rural Residential zone
  • 100 per cent discount for a rural (eg. piggery) or tourist activity (eg. short-term accommodation) in the Rural zone

Developers who want to take up the offer need to apply to the Council and complete their development by June 30, 2022.

They will be required to enter into an infrastructure agreement which will detail the discount they are offered and their obligations under the scheme.

Council’s maximum contribution will be capped at $500,000 per development.

The Council are also providing a range of other measures to assist residents and developers with their projects.

These include:

  • Free pre-lodgement meetings
  • Reduced levels of Planning Scheme assessment and typically no application requirements for changes of use in existing commercial sites
  • Rates relief on undeveloped lots – developers will receive a 40 per cent reduction in their valuation with no minimum general rate until the parcel is developed or ownership changes (the general rate will be calculated using the reduced valuation)
  • Developers will also receive an exemption from vacant water and sewerage charges for five years from the date of land registration or until the allotment is sold

Mayor Otto said the incentive scheme would impose up-front costs to Council, however, he was confident these costs could be recovered over a 10-year period from the increased rates revenue new developments would generate.

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