A colourful playground in the shape of a lighthouse and a ship

Common questions in relation to Development Contribution Plans

New developments or the redevelopment of areas require the provision of new or upgraded infrastructure to meet the demands of the population in a new or redeveloped area. New or upgraded infrastructure is funded through developer contributions and, where there are multiple landowners, through Development Contribution Plans.

1. Am I required to pay developer contributions?

If you develop land which is in an area subject to a Development Contribution Scheme (DCS) you may be required to pay developer contributions at a specific point in time. That point typically occurs prior to the subdivision clearance process or when a development application is lodged.

2. What will I need to pay or contribute?

Developer contributions can be made in one or a combination of the following forms: monetary contributions, ceding land (free of cost) for infrastructure including roads, public open space, community purpose sites and drainage reserves or the construction of infrastructure which is transferred to the relevant government agency upon completion. Do not assume that the demands of an authority for the ceding of land free of cost is necessarily lawful even if they seem justified.

For monetary contributions, the amount that you may be required to pay toward developer contributions will depend on the particular developer contribution scheme and when your liability to make those developer contributions arises. As a general rule, the infrastructure that forms part of the development contribution scheme must be connected to the development area and all development contribution items must be clearly listed or identified in a development contribution scheme.

For example, a DCS may provide for adjustments in liability and entitlements between landowners in a scheme, depending on how much land or cash they have contributed. Calculating the adjustments can be problematic, partly because of the complexity of the formula for determining liability. The valuation of land contributions and the cost of infrastructure works are often the subject of disputes.

3. How can I find out about my liability to pay developer contributions prior to purchasing land?

All development contributions must be clearly identified. These developer contributions are typically found within a local government planning scheme and within a report specifically applicable to a development contribution area. The method of calculating development contributions should be clearly set out within these documents.

4. Is there a way to challenge my developer contributions? 

Typically you have an opportunity to seek review of the developer contributions initially with the relevant local government or service provider. Following that review you may seek a further review in the State Administrative Tribunal or in private arbitration depending on the nature of review and the specific infrastructure items in question.

5. Guidance – legal issues

Development contributions can have a large impact on the viability of a project. We recommend seeking legal advice on your obligations to make developer contributions, the quantum of those contributions, whether those contributions have been correctly calculated and when the payment of the contribution is triggered. Our capability statement (view here) provides further details of the types of matters we have assisted with. If you would like to discuss this with us, please contact us by telephone on (08) 6460 5179 or by email at admin@glenmcleodlegal.com.