Forty-one councils in the greater Sydney area is impractical given current and projected population growth demands, the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) NSW said today after IPART’s finding that 71 per cent of councils are ‘unfit’.
UDIA NSW Chief Executive Stephen Albin said based on the experiences of the Institute’s members “IPART’s findings came as no surprise as bigger councils typically provide better services”.
“We need a more streamlined and co-ordinated framework to accommodate growth, especially in Sydney,” he said.
“Currently, each council has individual planning processes and controls in place, with different Development Application processing times making the delivery of projects such as housing difficult.
“Project delivery, including infrastructure, is especially challenging when it crosses one or two different government boundaries.”
He said however, the need for any amalgamation should be proven. “It’s vital these mergers are based on increasing efficiencies, not on politics,” he said.
Mr Albin also said ideally, the new council structure would reflect the districts outlined in the State Government’s roadmap for growth, A Plan for Growing Sydney.
He also said whatever the outcome, the reforms should not be drawn out any longer than they need to be for the benefit of staff, and the State.
“The State Government has done a great job managing the Local Government reform process, and now it’s vital that momentum is maintained,” he said.
Mr Albin said it is surprising that only three per cent of councils put forward merger applications, and councils need to weigh-up their options.
“Councils need to more seriously entertain merger scenarios and the government may need to revisit incentives to make the option of merging more attractive,” he said.