Conference paper

The fiscal crisis of the local state, urban consolidation, and local open space provision in Sydney

Infill development Cities and towns Open spaces Urban planning Health Sydney
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Abstract: This paper analyses the recent provision of local open space in urban consolidation developments in Sydney, using data from a survey of local councils. In particular, it looks at the extent to which local open space areas required to meet new residents’ needs under the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act are not being provided in such developments, and the reasons for this. Under-provision is shown to be greatest in existing higher density areas where the state government has targeted significantly increased urban consolidation. Reasons for under-provision include reluctance to pass on the cost to developers of funding the required open space given existing housing market prices, local council standards set at less than the EPA Act standard in denser areas, and the lack of local government revenue to maintain new open space. The latter reflects a fiscal crisis in local government that has arisen because of declining state government financial support, a state cap on the allowable increase in local rates, cost shifting by the state, state government pressure to reduce developer charges, and increased expenditure arising from greater community expectations and willingness to contest development proposals. The result is intensified pressure on existing open space.

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