Toowoomba Regional Council today (June 23, 2022) endorsed a raft of residential development assistance measures to help the development industry release more housing to the market.

TRC Planning and Development Committee chair Cr Megan O’Hara Sullivan said Senior TRC planning officers consulted with their state government counterparts and other development industry people to devise a range of measures and other policies to enable developers to offer greater housing choice across the Region.

Cr O’Hara Sullivan said Council had listened to community concerns and devised the following measures, including:

• A Temporary Local Planning Instrument, subject to State Government approval, to streamline development in Emerging Community Zoned land, (in accordance with provisions consistent with the Low density residential zone). This is expected to return for Council’s consideration in August,

• Reducing Operational works fees to 50% of the approved fee schedule for a period not exceeding 12 months from June 2022,

• An incentives policy, that in principle, reduces the infrastructure charges normally applicable to a medium density development by 70% for new approvals, 40% for existing development approvals and 30% for duplex dwellings, for a period not exceeding 24 months from June 2022, and a $3.5 million foregone infrastructure charges cap to ensure that the cost of the scheme is contained, and

• A pumped stormwater system to provide an alternate stormwater solution for sites in the Low-Medium Density Zone that slope away from the street, making them more feasible for redevelopment.

“One measure covers processes that streamline applications in new or greenfield areas, particularly to aid development in Emerging Community Zoned land, plus a review of some development approval fees,” Cr O’Hara Sullivan said.

TRC Planning and Development Committee portfolio leader Cr Bill Cahill said the initiatives were designed to assist in the provision of more rental accommodation in the Region’s existing urban areas, as well as making it easier for developers to provide new housing lots for owner occupiers in the short term, (especially given the demand for new owner occupier homes that has been driven by federal stimulus incentives).

“History and statistical evidence show us that these measures look to give us the greatest yield for new dwellings on the ground,” Cr Cahill said.

“Council is also looking to unlock the latent capacity in our existing infrastructure networks, particularly around in-fill development. This also delivers a more cost-effective solution as we encourage more dwellings to be built.

“We acknowledge that housing supply and housing rental stress are key issues being experienced in our community, that have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and other economic changes.

“These challenges are not unique to the Toowoomba Region and reflect challenges being experienced across Australia.

“Council continues to meet with the development industry as part of ongoing discussions to address land supply concerns across the Region.

“Council must manage growth sustainably and responsibly and is actively planning for the future in developing a new Toowoomba Regional Growth Plan and planning scheme.”