The infrastructure in our towns – things like roads, footpaths and kerb and gutters – is often taken for granted. However, providing these items comes at a cost.
Generally, these items are provided by the initial developer of the land. The cost of providing this infrastructure is then built into the price of the developed blocks. Hence, each property owner has contributed to the cost of the infrastructure outside his or her land.
Over time, our communities’ expectations about infrastructure have changed. For example, most new urban sub-divisions now include kerb and gutter as standard – an item that older sub-divisions often do not have.
As our towns grow, it becomes important to link up this community infrastructure to allow the footpath and kerb and gutter network to work as it should. This often means installing kerb and gutter and footpaths items in the “gaps” created by older sub-divisions without those items.
Given that the cost of providing this infrastructure in newer sub-divisions has been borne by the property owners there – in the purchase price of their land – it is fair that property owners in older areas contribute to the cost of new kerb and gutter and footpaths installed adjacent to their land.
The NSW government recognises this and the Roads Act 1993 allows for Councils to recover up to half the cost of providing infrastructure like kerb and gutter and footpaths from the adjacent landowners via a contributory charge. Like Council rates, this charge attaches to the land and if the land is sold, the charge is then payable by the new landowner. Where kerb and gutter and/or footpath works are only on one side of a street, the Roads Act only allows the Council to charge those property owners on that side – not the other.
The adjacent property owners will generally be required to meet 50% of the cost of the new footpath and/or kerb and gutter. The cost is divided up across the property owners on the basis of their street frontage. Where a property owner has a corner block and therefore two street frontages, this cost may in some circumstances reduce to 25%.
The Council understands paying this charge upfront and at short notice can be difficult. To assist property owners to meet this cost, the Council has a procedure – the “Half-Cost Scheme” that
· Requires the Council to inform property owners about the likely cost of the works in advance, the amount they are likely to have to contribute, and allow them the opportunity to have the Council consider any objections, and
· If the Council decides to go ahead with the works, allows property owners to pay off the charge interest-free over three years.
All property owners are required to contribute to the cost of infrastructure passing their property, either through the initial cost of purchase or via a later contribution. The Council considers that its Half-Cost Scheme provides a simple and fair method of allocating and recovering the contribution to new infrastructure.