Cessnock lets developers off the hook on infrastructure costs

Cessnock lets developers off the hook on infrastructure costs

The requirement on developers to provide  kerb and gutters is being waived by Cessnock council on some projects.

The requirement on developers to provide kerb and gutters is being waived by Cessnock council on some projects.

CESSNOCK councillors are getting into a bad habit of letting developers off the hook from paying for infrastructure, councillor James Ryan says.

Cr Ryan described it as a disgrace, saying it would add to the council’s $107 million infrastructure backlog.

But other councillors claimed they were helping ‘‘mum and dad investors’’ and the decisions were common sense.

Councillors voted 9-1 on Wednesday to waive a condition for construction of kerb, guttering and a road shoulder, which was required for a two-lot subdivision in Dalwood Road, East Branxton.

The applicant requested the exemption, but council staff recommended against it.

Cr Ryan said councillors made a similar decision a fortnight ago, giving concessions to a developer for roadworks and drainage required in Ellis Street, Weston, with an industrial-building approval.

Council staff had recommended against this as well.

Cr Ryan said the council would have to ‘‘meet these expenses at some point in future’’ and ‘‘the rest of the ratepayers have to pick up the tab’’.

The council recently approved a 9.6per cent rate rise.

‘‘We’re the highest-charging council in the Hunter for rates, yet we’re letting developers not do hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of work,’’ Cr Ryan (Greens) said.

He  said he would expect such decisions from conservatives, but not a Labor-led council.

‘‘It’s a betrayal by members of the Labor Party who purport to represent residents,’’ he said.

Labor councillor Graham Smith described this comment as ‘‘rubbish’’.

Cr Smith said the East Branxton and Weston decisions were made for good reasons.

Liberal councillor Bryce Gibson said there was no benefit in making residents pay for kerb and guttering that ‘‘connected to nowhere’’.

Cr Gibson said this kind of planning would lead to a ‘‘patchwork of non-uniform infrastructure’’.

Cr Smith said the Weston decision would allow a small businessman to store equipment in an industrial area, rather than a residential zone.

A council report said most applicants complied with conditions for infrastructure.

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