The Planning Act 2016 (Planning Act) gives applicants the ability to apply to Council to convert non-trunk infrastructure required by a condition of approval to trunk infrastructure. What this means is that you may be entitled to either an offset or refund for providing trunk infrastructure, as required by the conditions of approval of your development.
Local infrastructure is categorised as either trunk infrastructure or non-trunk infrastructure. Whether the condition/s imposed on your development approval are classified as either trunk or non-trunk infrastructure will be the determining factor as to whether you are entitled to offsets against your infrastructure charges or a refund
Developers are usually responsible for funding non-trunk infrastructure, while the funding of trunk infrastructure is shared between several developers and Council.
What is non-trunk infrastructure
Non-trunk infrastructure can be defined in simple terms as infrastructure that is not shared with other developments and is generally internal to a development site.
What is trunk infrastructure
Trunk infrastructure can be defined in simple terms as higher-level infrastructure that is often shared between multiple developments (for example water treatment and sewerage treatment plants or collector or higher-order roads).
Section 139 of the Planning Act gives applicants the ability to convert conditioned non-trunk infrastructure to trunk infrastructure, provided construction of the non-trunk infrastructure has not started. The application must be made to the Council within one (1) year after the development approval starts to have effect.
Once a conversion application has been lodged, Council has up to 30 business days to decide if the conversion criteria have been met.
The conversion criteria are set out in Council’s charges resolution. The criteria will often include an assessment of the following (which is a non-exhaustive list of some of the criteria included in the Logan City Council Charges Resolution):
- The infrastructure must be located completely inside the Council’s Priority Infrastructure Area.
- The infrastructure must have the capacity to service other developments in the area to the desired standards of service.
- The infrastructure is located so that it is available to service other developments in the area based on the desired standards of service.
- The infrastructure must be the same size or equivalent capacity and type and perform the same function and purpose as the trunk infrastructure included in the Local Government Infrastructure Plan (LGIP) (for example a road that is required as an access road will not provide the same function and purpose as a trunk road which must be a collector or arterial road).
- The infrastructure must comply with the desired standards of service for the equivalent trunk infrastructure identified in the LGIP.
- The infrastructure must be of a type, size and location that is the most cost effective option and most efficient option for servicing multiple users in the area.
- The infrastructure must service development that is consistent with the planning assumptions for the premises identified in the LGIP in terms of scale, type, timing and location.
When considering whether to make a conversion application, it is important that there is confidence that you have a strong case in that the infrastructure that you have been conditioned to provide serves a trunk function.
If Council refuses to convert non-trunk infrastructure into trunk infrastructure, an appeal may be commenced in the Planning and Environment Court. The appeal must be filed within 20 business days after the day the applicant is given notice of the decision.
Conversion applications are not always appropriate in all cases and it might be that an infrastructure agreement is entered into instead of going through the conversion application process. If your approval has conditions requiring the provision of infrastructure, it is essential to investigate options as early as possible and to understand what you are reasonably entitled to regarding credits.
The key takeaway is to start the process as early as you may indefinitely lose your entitlement to either a credit or refund. If you are considering your options regarding the conversion application process, please reach out to discuss the time, costs and risks involved with pursuing this avenue.
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