You are invited to attend the next Extraordinary Meeting of Council:

 

Date:

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Time:

8.00pm

Location:

Council Chamber

62-64 Menangle Street

Picton NSW 2571

 

AGENDA

 

 

Extraordinary Council Meeting

 

11 February 2020

 

 

 

Ben Taylor

Chief Executive Officer


Extraordinary Council Meeting Agenda

11 February 2020

 

 


Extraordinary Council Meeting Agenda

11 February 2020

 

Order Of Business

1          Opening. 4

2          Recording of the Meeting. 4

3          Webcast Notice. 4

4          National Anthem.. 4

5          Acknowledgement of Country. 4

6          Apologies and Leave of Absence Requests. 4

7          Declaration of Interest 4

8          Items to be Tabled. 4

9          Sustainable and Balanced Growth. 5

9.1            LEP Review Program - Endorsement for Wollondilly 2040 Final Draft Local Strategic Planning Statement (LSPS) 5

10       Looking after the Community. 199

10.1          2019/20 Bushfire Relief & Recovery. 199

11       Closed Reports. 214

No reports this meeting

 


1            Opening

2            Recording of the Meeting

In accordance with Council’s Code of Meeting Practice the electronic recording of the Council Meeting and the use of electronic media during the proceedings is not permitted. This includes devices such as laptops, mobile phones, tape recorders and video cameras.

3            Webcast Notice

Members of the public are advised that open sessions of this meeting are webcast live for public viewing on Council’s website. Audio and video footage taken is of the Chambers only; your image and voice will not be recorded if you remain quietly within the public gallery.

4            National Anthem

5            Acknowledgement of Country

The Mayor will acknowledge the traditional Custodians of the Land.

6            Apologies and Leave of Absence Requests

7            Declaration of Interest

8            Items to be Tabled


Extraordinary Council Meeting Agenda

11 February 2020

 

9            Sustainable and Balanced Growth

9.1         LEP Review Program - Endorsement for Wollondilly 2040 Final Draft Local Strategic Planning Statement (LSPS)

File Number:           10619-2#63

 

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

·        Wollondilly 2040 is our Local Strategic Planning Statement (LSPS). It outlines our vision for land use planning over the next 20 years and applies to all of Wollondilly Shire. Wollondilly 2040 identifies key planning priorities and actions that focus on protecting and retaining what makes Wollondilly extraordinary. It is also about embracing the future and creating environments that help to make people feel happier and healthier.

·        Once finalised, Wollondilly 2040 will enable Council to make land-use planning decisions that ensure development proposals are consistent with Council’s vision for Wollondilly.

·        This report presents the outcomes of the public exhibition and Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) assurance review processes for the draft Local Strategic Planning Statement (LSPS), Wollondilly 2040, and seeks Council endorsement for the final draft.

·        The LSPS is required to be made by 31 March 2020.  Prior to making the LSPS, formal endorsement is required from the Greater Sydney Commission to confirm consistency with the Greater Sydney Region Plan and the Western City District Plan.

·        64 submissions and 28 questionnaire responses were received during the exhibition.

·        Refinements have been made to the draft LSPS in response to external submissions, the GSC Assurance Process, Councillor feedback, internal officer comments, legislative updates and professional editorial review.

·        It is recommended that Council:

o   Endorses the final draft Local Strategic Planning Statement (LSPS), Wollondilly 2040, for referral to the Greater Sydney Commission for the purposes of assurance;

o   Delegates authority to the Chief Executive Officer to make any minor typographical or editing amendments to Wollondilly 2040 if required;

o   Subject to receiving a formal letter of support from the Greater Sydney Commission, delegates authority to the Chief Executive Officer to make the Local Strategic Planning Statement on Council’s behalf in accordance with Section 3.9(3A) of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979; and

o   Notes that if further significant changes are required to the Local Strategic Planning Statement, these will be reported to a future meeting of Council scheduled to satisfy the statutory requirement for the Statement to be made by 31 March 2020.

Report

Background

In response to a number of planning related announcements and legislative changes introduced by the NSW Government, Wollondilly, along with other Councils within the Greater Sydney Region is required to undertake a review of the Wollondilly Local Environment Plan (WLEP).

The purpose of the LEP Review Program is to update the WLEP to give effect to the Western City District Plan.

 

 

The LEP Review Program is being undertaken in six phases, and includes seven main project deliverables as follows:

1.       Submission of LEP Review Report (completed in November 2018);

2.       Submission of Project Plan (completed in January 2019);

3.       Submission of draft Local Strategic Planning Statement;

4.       Completion of Local Housing Strategy and specialist reports (underway);

5.       Submission of final Local Strategic Planning Statement (LSPS);

6.       Submission of Planning Proposal to the Department for a Gateway determination (completed in December 2019); and

7.       Submission of draft LEP to Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to make the plan.

 

This report relates to deliverable 5.

Wollondilly is one of 13 priority Councils selected on the basis of their opportunity to bring forward housing supply and housing diversity by updating local environmental plans to reflect District Plans. The priority Councils include high growth Councils in the new Western Sydney City Deal. The LEP Review Program forms part of the NSW Government’s package of measures designed to improve housing affordability.

As a priority Council, Wollondilly was offered and has signed a funding agreement with the NSW Government to receive up to $2.5 million to fund this review in an accelerated timeframe. As part of this agreement, the LEP Review is to be completed by 30 June 2020.

Council’s participation in the LEP Review Program was supported by Council at its Ordinary Meeting of Council on 16 July 2018.

The LEP review is a requirement of the District Plan. Even if Wollondilly wasn’t a priority Council, the LEP would need to be updated within three (3) years of the finalisation of the District Plan, and potentially without any funding assistance.

Local Strategic Planning Statement

Amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 made on 1 March 2018 brought into place new requirements which increased the emphasis on upfront strategic planning.

One of these requirements is for Councils to prepare and make a local strategic planning statement (LSPS).

The purpose of the local strategic planning statement is set by legislation and, as it applies to Wollondilly, is to:

·        Set a 20-year land use vision for Wollondilly;

·        Identify the characteristics that make Wollondilly unique;

·        Recognise the shared values that should be enhanced and maintained;

·        Manage change and direct growth;

·        Identify actions to support the Western City District Plan;

·        Support the implementation of Create Wollondilly 2033;

·        Set planning priorities and actions to deliver the land use vision;

·        Identify further planning work.

 

Council’s LSPS is required to be “made” by 31 March 2020. The tight timeframes of the LEP Review Program have directed the scope and content of the LSPS, and have necessitated the progress and finalisation of Wollondilly 2040 ahead of the preparation of a number of important specialist studies. These include:

·        Local Housing Strategy,

·        Rural Lands Strategy,

·        Employment Lands Study, and

·        Centres Strategy.

These studies, along with a number of other investigations are being progressed concurrently as part of the LEP Review Program. It is anticipated that once these studies have been completed, the LSPS may need to be updated.

At its Extraordinary Meeting on 24 September 2019 Council endorsed the draft LSPS for consultation purposes, subject to a number of updates prior to the public exhibition.

Council also noted a number of items to be considered Post Exhibition along with any community and stakeholder submissions received during the public exhibition.

Wollondilly 2040

Wollondilly 2040 is our Local Strategic Planning Statement (LSPS). It outlines our vision for land use planning over the next 20 years and applies to all of Wollondilly Shire.

The vision for Wollondilly 2040 is:

An enviable lifestyle of historic villages, modern living, rural lands and bush

Wollondilly will have a prosperous, sustainable and resilient future.

Our future will be grounded in what we love. The community will be connected, local, healthy, and better prepared for climate impacts.

We will protect what makes us special - our unique villages and lifestyle within a landscape that people can celebrate, visit and explore.

Our new town at Wilton will be strategic centre, with new job opportunities, regional facilities, greater advantages for healthcare and education and a variety of open spaces.

Our local economy will leverage the opportunities of the Western Parkland City and Western Sydney Aerotropolis, creating more local jobs and benefitting from greater investment in industry, tourism, agriculture and the creative arts.

Wollondilly 2040 identifies key planning priorities and actions that focus on protecting and retaining what makes Wollondilly extraordinary. It is also about embracing the future and creating environments that help to make people feel happier and healthier.

Wollondilly 2040 identifies these planning priorities across four themes:

o   infrastructure and collaboration

o   liveability

o   productivity

o   sustainability.

This structure allows us to align local planning strategies in a way that focuses on the Shire’s places, and how these can be better for the community.

Once finalised, Wollondilly 2040 will enable Council to make land-use planning decisions that ensure development proposals are consistent with Council’s vision for Wollondilly.

 

 

Consultation

The public exhibition was held over 33 days from 30 September 2019 to 1 November 2019.

The following key documents were exhibited:

·        Wollondilly 2040 – Draft Local Strategic Planning Statement

·        Wollondilly 2040 Summary Document

·        Table detailing Councillor changes for Wollondilly 2040

 

During the exhibition period the opportunity to provide feedback was promoted in a number of ways including:

·        Spring edition of Council’s newsletter “Community News” distributed to residential mail boxes across the Shire (Issue 11 Spring 2019) released on 28 August 2019;

·        Notifications in the District Reporter, Wollondilly Advertiser, Macarthur Advertiser and Camden Advertiser;

·        Email notifications sent to the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) members on relevant committees;

·        Email notifications sent to stakeholders who have registered in the LEP Review Program;

·        12 posts on Council’s Facebook page;

·        Hard copies available at Wollondilly Library and Council’s Customer Service Centre;

·        A range of information provided on Your Say Wollondilly, Council’s online community engagement platform;

·        2 x community kiosks held in Appin (17 October 2019) and Tahmoor (12 October 2019);

·        2 x community drop in sessions held in Picton (15 October 2019) and Warragamba (22 October 2019)

·        Western Parkland City pop up information booth at Dam Fest in Warragamba (20 October 2019);

·        Facebook Live session hosted by Mayor and Deputy Mayor on 23 October 2019;

·        Co-hosted Industry Briefing with UDIA NSW on 29 October 2019; and

·        Letters or email notifications to community reference groups and other stakeholders.

Community and other stakeholders were encouraged to provide feedback by making a written submission or completing a questionnaire.

In response 64 submissions were received. Consisting of:

·        51 community and stakeholder submissions,

·        12 public agency submissions, and

·        1 submission from an adjoining Council.

The community and stakeholder submissions were received from a broad range of groups and included individuals, special interest groups, non-government organisations, industry associations, and consultants and other organisations representing landowner or commercial interests.

A number of late submissions were received in 2019 and have been considered. However, one late community submission was received on 16 January 2020. It has not been possible to accommodate genuine consideration of this submission as the Wollondilly 2040 document was close to finalisation at that time.

 

To supplement the information provided in submissions, 28 questionnaire responses were also received. The questionnaire included questions on the vision, the comprehensiveness of the document, stakeholder values and aspirations, and feedback around the four LSPS themes; Infrastructure & Collaboration, Liveability, Productivity, and Sustainability.

 

The emerging themes raised in submissions and questionnaire responses included:

·        Increased public transport and connectivity,

·        Infrastructure before development,

·        Preservation of rural lands and character,

·        Increased resilience with a strong commitment to sustainability,

·        Increased education facilities and healthcare services

·        Better commercial opportunities and jobs growth,

·        Opportunities for tourism and agribusiness, and

·        Increased commitment to and delivery of affordable and diverse housing.

 

These emerging themes are consistent with the LSPS content and are acknowledged across the 18 Planning Priorities in the LSPS.

An overview of the approach to engagement and the feedback received from submissions, questionnaires and other sources is provided in the Post-engagement Report provided at Attachment 1.

A detailed assessment of the submissions has also been undertaken and is provided at Attachment 2 (public agencies and adjoining councils), and Attachment 3 (community and stakeholders). The detailed assessment includes a response to the matters raised and, where relevant, details of any changes proposed to the LSPS.

A number of submissions included information that is relevant and/or has the potential to contribute to other work undertaken by Council. The assessment included at attachments 2 and 3 recognises where other actions can inform other Council work.

On balance, the submissions received have not required changes to the overall structure, themes or priorities within the LSPS. However, a number of refinements have been made throughout the LSPS in response to the submissions received.

1.2     Post Exhibition Matters raised by Council

As part of Council’s support to endorse the draft LSPS for consultation purposes, Council also noted a number of items to be considered Post Exhibition along with any community and stakeholder submissions received during the public exhibition.

The table at Attachment 4 provides a summary of the post exhibition matters raised by Council with a response.

The Final Draft LSPS includes a number of refinements in response to matters raised by Council.

1.7     LSPS Assurance Process

The Greater Sydney Commission has an assurance role in ensuring that Council’s local strategic planning statements are aligned with the applicable regional and district strategic plans. Council cannot ‘make’ the local strategic planning statement unless the Commission has advised Council in writing that the Commission supports the statement as being consistent with the Greater Sydney Region Plan and the Western City District Plan.

The final phase of the Local Strategic Planning Statements has been guided by the Commission’s ‘3 step’ assurance program. This commenced at the completion of the public exhibition and has so far included;

·        a Preliminary Review meeting on 4 November 2019,

·        a Draft Final LSPS Technical Health Check meeting on 30 January 2020,

These meetings have involved relevant staff from the Greater Sydney Commission, the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and other public agencies to identify any critical issues in relation to assurance and to provide suggestions for additional information and actions.

 

A number of assurance matters have been raised at these meetings and are summarised in the table provided at Attachment 5 along with a response. A number of amendments have been made to the draft LSPS in response to assurance matters. It is considered that the Final Wollondilly 2040 LSPS document provided at Attachment 6 adequately responds to the assurance matters raised by the Commission.

The final step of the assurance program will be to submit the final LSPS for consideration by the LSPS Assurance Panel, following which it is anticipated that Council can ‘make’ the LSPS.

1.3     Amendments to Wollondilly 2040

Following the public exhibition a number of refinements have been made to the local strategic planning statement in response to:

·        Submissions received from community and stakeholders,

·        Submissions received from public agencies and adjoining councils,

·        Feedback from the Greater Sydney Commission as part of the LSPS Assurance Process,

·        Councillor feedback,

·        Internal review including specialist feedback from staff across Council,

·        Legislative updates,

·        A professional writer review of the document.

The refinements are considered to strengthen the document and do not change the overall intent.

 

In summary, the refinements to the LSPS include:

·        The updated text for the LSPS has been reviewed and edited by a professional writer to ensure the document is professional in terms of being plain English, written in a consistent style, is clear and concise and grammatically correct.

·        A number of changes have been made to text throughout the document in response to submissions, assurance feedback from the Greater Sydney Commission and internal feedback.

·        The vision has been updated to be more focussed and to include greater recognition of the significant role Wilton will have for Wollondilly and the need to respond to climate impacts.

·        The town and village snapshots have been amended to respond to feedback and more closely align to the outcomes of the PlaceScore survey undertaken in early 2019.

·        Planning Priority 3 has been updated to provide greater leadership on the Greater Macarthur Growth Area.

·        The updated document incorporates new Actions.

 

·        A number of minor updates have been made to the Structure Plan in response to submissions, assurance feedback from the Greater Sydney Commission, and internal feedback. These have mainly originated from the designation of Greater Macarthur as a Growth Area (NSW Government announcement in December 2019) and have necessitated updates to maps throughout the document.

·        A new map inset has been included as part of the Structure Plan to provide further detail on the Wilton Growth Area.

·        Four new maps have been included under Planning Priority 5 (Providing Housing) to illustrate the complexity of constraints that interplay with the provision of new housing.

 

Financial Implications

Funding of up to $2.5 million for the LEP Review Program is available for this program through the City Deal initiative subject to contractual conditions.

Any additional costs for this project are to be covered through Council’s adopted budget and forward estimates. At this time, no additional budget implications have been identified. However the LEP review program, including the preparation of the LSPS, continues to have a significant impact on strategic planning resources.

 

Attachments

1.       Wollondilly 2040 LSPS; Post Engagement Report (January 2020)

2.       Table summarising feedback from Public Agencies & adjoining Councils

3.       Table summarising feedback from community & stakeholder submissions

4.       Table summarising Post Exhibition matters raised by Council

5.       Table summarising response to LSPS Assurance matters from the Greater Sydney Commission

6.       Wollondilly 2040 Final Draft Local Strategic Planning Statement (February 2020)  

Recommendation

That Council:

1.       Endorses the final draft Local Strategic Planning Statement (LSPS), Wollondilly 2040, for referral to the Greater Sydney Commission for the purposes of assurance;

2.       Delegates authority to the Chief Executive Officer to make any minor typographical or editing amendments to Wollondilly 2040 if required;

3.       Subject to receiving a formal letter of support from the Greater Sydney Commission, delegates authority to the Chief Executive Officer to make the Local Strategic Planning Statement on Council’s behalf in accordance with Section 3.9(3A) of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979; and

4.       Notes that if further significant changes are required to the Local Strategic Planning Statement, these will be reported to a future meeting of Council scheduled to satisfy the statutory requirement for the Statement to be made by 31 March 2020.

 

 


Extraordinary Council Meeting Agenda

11 February 2020

 

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Extraordinary Council Meeting Agenda

11 February 2020

 


































Extraordinary Council Meeting Agenda

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Extraordinary Council Meeting Agenda

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Extraordinary Council Meeting Agenda

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Extraordinary Council Meeting Agenda

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Extraordinary Council Meeting Agenda

11 February 2020

 

10          Looking after the Community

10.1       2019/20 Bushfire Relief & Recovery

File Number:           10619-2#49

 

Executive Summary

·        The purpose of this report is to report on actions undertaken to date by Council to support our community in the aftermath of the recent catastrophic bushfire events.

·        The report also proposes a range of further actions to assist community recovery in relation to development application fees, rates relief and investment of the Commonwealth Government’s $1m grant funding towards bushfire recovery.

·        It is recommended that Council:

1.       Express its heartfelt thanks and congratulations to the Rural Fire Service, NSW Fire and Rescue, NSW Police, the State Emergency Service, all other emergency service organisations, all community organisations and volunteer groups, and the community of Wollondilly as a whole for coming together with courage and selflessness to help and support each other throughout this crisis and in its aftermath.

2.       Note the range of community recovery initiatives undertaken to date by Council to support the community in recovery from the 2019/20 bushfires including approximately $1.7m invested in bushfire response and clean up to date.

3.       Waive Council development application fees for residents whose homes, outbuildings and businesses have been lost or rendered uninhabitable in the current bushfire emergency, to be resourced from existing operational budgets, as follows:

a.       Pre-lodgement advice fees;

b.       Development application fees;

c.       Construction & occupation certificate fees;

d.       Pool inspection fees;

e.       Related application fees under Section 68 of the Local Government Act and Section 138 of the Roads Act.

4.       Write to the NSW Minister for Planning & Public Spaces the Hon. Rob Stokes MP and the Minister for Disaster Recovery the Hon. John Barilaro MP to request that the NSW Government waive all its development application fees that are collected on behalf of the NSW Government by Council for residents whose homes and outbuildings have been lost or rendered uninhabitable.

5.       Allocates funding from the Commonwealth Government’s $1 million Recovery Grant, provided to Council for projects and activities essential for the recovery and renewal of their communities, as follows:

a.       $500,000 to an additional playspace and suitable memorial to honour the memory of Deputy Captain Geoffrey Keaton and Firefighter Andrew O'Dwyer who tragically lost their lives in Buxton protecting our community and thank all our firefighters and community services at Telopea Park Buxton.

b.       $100,000 to establishing a Rates Payment Assistance Grant to directly support ratepayers whose homes are lost or uninhabitable due to the fires;

c.       $150,000 to support small business recovery within bushfire affected communities with economic development and tourism projects

d.       $250,000 to high priority clean-up and repair costs for Council in bushfire affected communities where other government funding sources are not applicable.

6.       Request the CEO review the capital works program to seek to bring forward capital works projects in other fire effected areas including Bargo and Oakdale.

7.       Work with the RFS to identify funding for high priority works for local RFS brigades to support future fire fighting capability.

 

Report

RECOVERY ACTIONS UNDERTAKEN

Council enacted a range of response and recovery actions from the outset of the recent bushfire crisis and we have continued to actively focus on how best to support our community. The key elements are summarised below:

Support for RFS and community bushfire response

During the efforts to manage and control the significant and challenging Green Wattle Creek fire, Council applied significant resources to the firefighting efforts and community support. The Council responses included:

·    At the request of the Emergency Operations Controller (NSW Police), established and manned an Emergency Operations Centre to provide coordinated inter-agency (Transport for NSW, Communities & Justice, Local Land Services, State Emergency Services) support to the RFS

·    Deploying council staff and plant to undertake urgent repair works to fire trails on behalf of RFS

·    Sourcing heavy plant for RFS for fire break and access clearing (dozers, excavators and large water tankers), council and contracted refuelling plant and water carts to support the RFS firefighting fleet

·    Engaging additional water carts to supply water to residents that had run out of firefighting water on their properties

·    Deployed Council and contracted traffic controllers to manage road closures

·    Deployed Council staff and specialist contactors to undertake urgent road clearing works such as removal of dead and significantly impacted trees as well as fire debris from roads to allow RFS and later residents to re-enter fire impacted areas

·    Liaised with adjacent councils on support and facilities for displaced residents and animals e.g. Camden Council’s Community Centre and the Camden Bicentennial Equestrian Park

·    Opened and manned the Victoria Park as an emergency animal evacuation centre and extended the operating hours of the Wollondilly Library as a respite location during the evacuation period and heavy smoke and high temperature days

·    Sourced and distributed water and snacks for displaced persons sheltering in Council’s car park in Picton

 

Community Recovery Information Centre (CRIC)

·    Established in Council’s foyer to provide information, counselling services, referral to other agencies, crisis payments, food hampers, gift cards, toiletries, donated Christmas gifts etc.

·    The CRIC was open over the Christmas to NYE break with most enquiries being for replenishing food supplies and accessing crisis support payments through the Mayor’s Relief Fund and other State and Federal funding schemes.

·    Representatives from OEM, Red Cross and Insurance Council of Australia also attended and assisted.

 

 

Donations Coordination and Distribution

 

·    Council received an enormous quantity of donated goods (food, water, clothes, Christmas presents, toiletries etc.). With the assistance of community organisations we have managed to redistribute all of these donations with the exception of a small quantity of toys).

·    A register for all other offers of donated goods and services has been kept and has been used to connect needs to offers where possible.

·    The NSW Government has in recent weeks officially partnered with a web-based donations coordination platform GIVIT. Council has registered as a participant. 

 

Wollondilly’s Local Recovery and Resilience Committee

·    Wollondilly’s Local Recovery and Resilience Committee was stood up and has met multiple times since the commencement of the crisis. Its purpose is to coordinate recovery operations in collaboration with key agencies and the community. Its membership comprises:

Community members, many of which represent community organisations such as CWA, Community Links, Church groups, Red Cross, Tharawal Local Aboriginal Land Council etc.

Staff representatives from State and Federal MP offices

Office of Emergency Management Staff (Disaster Welfare team as well as Recovery team)

Councillors

Wollondilly Council CEO

Executive/Senior Wollondilly Council staff 

Staff representatives from Wingecarribee Council

 

Mayor’s Relief Fund

We have promoted the Mayor’s Relief Fund and have conducted a series of grant funding rounds.

·    Approximately $350,000 has been donated or pledged to date*.

·    Approximately $177,674 has been disbursed (or approved for disbursement) to date*

·    Approximately 135 families/individuals have been supported to date* either though initial crisis cash handouts or through subsequent funding rounds

*as at 30/1/20

 

Bushfire waste drop off options

·    Bargo Waste Management Centre opened on 22 December 2019 to accept bushfire waste and this free drop off service has been extended to 28 February 2020.

·    Wollondilly and Wingecarribee Council have successfully collaborated to enable residents in Balmoral and Buxton (Wingecarribee) to also access this service.

·    A temporary bushfire waste drop off centre was operational from 4 -12 January 2020 at Oakdale

·    Council arranged with Remondis Picton to make their facility available for the free drop off of spoilt food from Saturday 21 December – Sunday 12 January 2020. This service was available to all residents affected by any power outages across the Shire due to the bushfire event.

 

Communications

·    Council has compiled and continually updated a series of specific webpages devoted to bushfire crisis information. The pages cover matters such as:

Being prepared

Location of Bushfire Prone Land

Road Closures

Financial Assistance options available from a wide range of government agencies, NGOs and the business sector

Donations of goods

Mayor’s Relief Fund

Waste and Bushfire Clean-up

Re-Building and Planning

Injured Wildlife and Animal Welfare

Health, Safety and Wellbeing

Replacing Personal Documents

·    Council has, throughout the crisis and in the aftermath, maintained continual Social Media messaging on key matters, emergency alerts, recovery information etc. 

 

Trees

·    Council has managed very significant tree clean-up operations in bushfire affected areas utilising council resources and several tree and earthmoving contractors. All ‘at risk and hazardous’ tree work has been completed and we have now moved into ‘clean up’ tree work.

·    Council’s tree experts are making themselves available to inspect fire damage trees on private property and determine if removal is required.

 

Community Recovery Meeting

·    A Community Recovery Meeting was held at Bargo Community Hall on 13 January 2020.

 

Greater Sydney Region Recovery Committee (GSRRC)

·    A GSRRC has been formed led by the Office of Emergency Management.

·    Wollondilly Council is a participating member along with Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Hawkesbury.

 

PAYMENT OF RATES

Sections 494 and 496 of the Local Government Act 1993 require Council to levy an ordinary rate for each year on all rateable land in its area and to levy an annual charge for the provision of domestic waste management services for each parcel of rateable land for which the service is available.

The bushfire event has had a serious impact on some Wollondilly ratepayers and may cause ongoing financial hardship and create difficulty for impacted ratepayers to pay rates and charges by the due dates.

There are however only limited provisions available for writing-off rates and charges under the Local Government Act, 1993. Section 575 provides for a reduction for eligible pensioners and section 607 provides that the regulations may specify additional circumstances in which a council may write off rates and charges and interest accrued on unpaid rates and charges. According to Section 607 Division 131 of the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 these circumstances are outlined as follows:

(4)  An amount of rates or charges can be written off under this clause only

(a)  if there is an error in the assessment, or

(b)  if the amount is not lawfully recoverable, or

(c)  as a result of a decision of a court, or

(d)  if the council or the general manager believes on reasonable grounds that an attempt to recover the amount would not be cost effective

No provision to write-off rates and charges in situations such as the current bushfire event or other natural disaster is contained in the Local Government Act 1993 or related regulations.

However sections 564 and 567 of the Local Government Act 1993 provide circumstances where accrued interest may be written-off. Section 564 provides that:  

(1)  A council may accept payment of rates and charges due and payable by a person in accordance with an agreement made with the person.

(2)  The council may write off or reduce interest accrued on rates or charges if the person complies with the agreement

Section 567 provides that, the council may write off accrued interest on rates or charges payable by a person if, in its opinion:

(a)  the person was unable to pay the rates or charges when they became due and payable for reasons beyond the person’s control, or

(b)  the person is unable to pay the accrued interest for reasons beyond the person’s control, or

(c)  payment of the accrued interest would cause the person hardship.

Council’s current Hardship Policy details all relief available to ratepayers. Due to the current ongoing drought situation Council’s Hardship Policy was reviewed in 2018 and changes were adopted in Council’s meeting of 21 May, 2018 to include provisions under section 564 and 567 to provide relief to ratepayers experiencing financial hardship resulting from a natural disaster. 

Point 4.6 of Council’s Hardship Policy provides:

“Natural Disasters

For properties categorised as Residential, Farmland of Business for rating purposes, Council may consider deferment of payment of outstanding rates and write-off of accrued interest for the duration of the natural disaster plus a period of up to twelve (12) months where the ratepayer has been significantly affected financially by the natural disaster or unfavourable climatic conditions (e.g. drought, flood, etc.).”

Rates Payment Assistance Grant

As discussed above Council’s Hardship Policy is essentially only a mechanism to assist ratepayers defer their payment obligations.

A more supportive option (given the significant impact of the fires on a small number of ratepayers) would be to make use of a portion of the Federal Government’s $1 million Recovery Grant to establish a Rates Payment Assistance Grant. This grant would be made available in accordance with the following policy:

-     Payable to ratepayers whose homes were rendered uninhabitable (unable to be lived in), on provision of suitable documentary evidence

-     To be applied for a period equivalent to 2 years from 1 January 2020

-     Not applicable to tenanted properties or properties used for business purposes

It is estimated that the funding amount to cover such a Rates Payment Grants Scheme would be approximately $100,000.

The NSW Government has announced that it will be will cover the full cost of council rates for the third and fourth quarters of this financial year for residents and farmers who have lost their homes, and business owners whose properties have been destroyed beyond repair by bushfires.

 

DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION FEES

The NSW Office of Emergency Management indicate that the recent bushfires have impacted on the Wollondilly Shire Council area as follows:

·    15 homes destroyed, 17 damaged

·    8 facilities destroyed, 4 damaged (businesses)

·    68 outbuildings destroyed, 47 damaged

·    350 impacted rural landholders

The above information is based on Building Impact Assessments of destroyed and damaged property conducted by NSW Rural Fire Service as at 15 January 2020.  The facilities identified above relate to structures damaged and destroyed at two non-residential properties.

Section 610E of the Local Government Act 1993 allows Council to waive payment of, or reduce a fee in a particular case if it is satisfied that the case falls within a category of hardship or any other category that Council has determined that fees may be waived or reduced. It is noted that Council’s corporate Hardship Policy only provides hardship assistance to ratepayers and other debtors that have difficulty paying their rates and charges or other sundry debts. It does not enable waiving fees for development applications as is envisaged by this report.

Although application fees will vary depending on the nature and cost of works, notification requirements, referrals for associated agency approvals and State legislated fee arrangements, the following table provides indicative fees based on the estimated cost of works:

 

Estimated cost of development

Application fees

$15,000

$2,103

$20,000

$2,143

$50,000

$2,408

$200,000

$5,996

$300,000

$8,175

$500,000

$9,343

$600,000

$9,857

 

Council also collects the following fees on behalf of the NSW State Government:

·    Long Service Levy: the current levy rate is 0.35 % of the value of building and construction works costing $25,000 or more (inclusive of GST).

·    Planning Reform Fee: the current levy rate is 0.064 % of the value of building or subdivision works costing $50,000 or more (inclusive of GST).

Although Council cannot waive these fees, the NSW Government has announced that it will be waiving the Planning Reform Fee. Council and the Western Sydney Planning Partnership have also advocated that the NSW Government waive or refund the Long Service Levy. It is expected that a formal announcement detailing extent of the fees to be waived will be made by the NSW Government by mid-February 2020.

The lost DA fee income cannot be accurately estimated as the extent of damage and the value of the works is not known.  However, the table below provides an estimation of the impact on Council’s fee income for the impacted businesses, homes and outbuildings.  This presupposes all properties take up the offer and with the assumed replacement costs as indicated below:

 

Development type (number of affected properties)

Assumed average building cost (application fee)

Approximate lost fee income

New dwelling (15)

$600,000 ($9,857)

$147,855

Damaged dwelling (17)

$200,000 ($5,996)

$101,932

New outbuilding (66)

$20,000 ($2,143)

$145,724

Damaged outbuilding (45)

$15,000 ($2,103)

$98,841

Facilities (2)

$500,000 ($9,343)

$28,029

Total

$522,381*

* Repairs to some of the damaged homes and outbuildings may not require development applications thereby reducing this estimate.

 

It is likely that approximately 10-30% of the properties may not be insured and an even greater number may be under-insured. For properties that are covered by insurance it should be noted that insurance policies already make provision for application fees. It can therefore be argued that there may be no material benefit to the owners in waiving the fees i.e. the insurance company rather than the owners will benefit.

Options available to Council:

Option 1

That Council waives the fees only for uninsured residential properties. The total figure amounts to approximately $150,000, based on the assumptions above.

Option 2

That Council waives the fees for all affected business and residential properties (whether insured or uninsured). The figure is calculated at $522,381, based on the assumptions above. 

It is recommended that only the current owners of these properties be eligible for the fees waiver. If properties are on sold before a DA is lodged then the new owners will not be eligible. This is to ensure that the assistance is targeted to those that have been directly impacted and to encourage rebuilding by the current owners.

This report recommends Option 2.

 

$1M FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RECOVERY GRANT – PROPOSED INITIATIVES

As announced by the Prime Minister on 9 January 2020, Council has received a $1M Federal Government grant to assist with bushfire recovery projects and expenses.  As part of the announcement of these grant, the government outlined that the funds were for Councils to spend on projects and activities that they deem essential for the recovery and renewal of their communities, including:

-     Rebuilding damaged or destroyed council assets such as key local roads, bridges, and community facilities;

-     Employing additional local staff to take on specialist recovery or planning roles to help coordinate and plan the rebuilding effort;

-     Hosting new public activities and events to bring communities together and attract visitors back to affected regions; and

-     Immediate maintenance and repairs to relief and evacuation centres.

The only condition placed on councils is that they develop a Program of Works within three months and report back to the Commonwealth in 12 months’ time.

 The following principles for the allocation of these funds into four categories are proposed:

a)   To establish a Rates Payment Assistance Grant (as outlined above).

b)   To meet Council’s unfunded community support and recovery costs where other government funding sources are not applicable.  

c)   To create a lasting legacy project that recognises and supports community recovery.

d)   To fund economic development and tourism projects to support small business recovery within bushfire affected communities.

 

(Note: It is also proposed to review other Council-funded capital works projects in other areas directly affected by the fires to consider where projects could be brought forward within Council’s capital works program if possible and practical.  This will be the subject of a separate discussion with Council led by the Director Infrastructure and Environment).

Category (a) – Rates Payment Assistance Grant - $100,000

This proposal is discussed earlier in this report.

Category (b) – Council’s unfunded high priority clean-up and repair costs – $250,000

Council’s total costs have not yet been finalised but it is estimated that the current cost to Council for operational bushfire response, including urgent clean-up and repair, would be $1.75m.  Given there is still a lot of work to do, the total cost of these recovery works is expected to be in the vicinity of $5m.

There are three distinct funding sources for Council’s bushfire recovery expenses:

·    EPA – for Waste Recovery expenses (Council is still awaiting confirmation of EPA approval for the Plan and funding request submitted in December);

·    Section 44 – RFS funding for operational recovery expenditure;

·    The National Disaster Recovery Arrangements

 

It is anticipated that the majority of Council’s costs will be covered through one of these external funding sources, but there will be some costs that remain unfunded.  The unfunded cost to Council is anticipated to be $250,000.

Category (c) - Legacy Project for Wollondilly firefighters – Telopea Park memorial –$500,000

It is proposed to allocate $500,000 towards a playspace and suitable memorial to honour the memory of Deputy Captain Geoffrey Keaton and Firefighter Andrew O'Dwyer who tragically lost their lives in Buxton protecting our community and thank all our firefighters and community services at Telopea Park Buxton. This would involve implementation of the Telopea Park Master Plan in Buxton and to incorporate a memorial for the RFS volunteers.  (Note that an additional $15,000 has been pledged by Wingecarribee Council towards the cost of the memorial)

Telopea Park is an important community asset and it can play a key role in community healing and recovery for bushfire affected residents from Wollondilly and also from Wingecarribee, particularly in neighbouring Balmoral.  The Park provides a place of recreation and reflection, a place where residents can come together and share experiences.  The memorial would honour the memories of the brave volunteers and ensure their sacrifice is not forgotten.

 

 

Category (d) - Small business recovery within bushfire affected communities– $150,000

It is proposed to allocate up to $150,000 to fund a range economic development and tourism projects to support small business recovery within bushfire affected communities. Note that other grant funding sources may become available for the items listed below, in which case the option of using those alternative grant sources would need to be considered and a report will be brought to Coucnil for consideration regarding the re-allocation of these funds.

·    $50,000 – Shop Local / Visit Local Project

The Wollondilly Visit & Shop Local Program would promote Wollondilly as “Open for Business” following the 2019-2020 Bushfire Event. There has also been an impact on the local economy following the high-levels of smoke and ongoing drought. Recognising that the vast majority of visitors to Wollondilly are domestic day trippers / overnight and visiting friends and relatives (VFR), the program will be targeted at the Sydney metropolitan area as well as the local area. The program will seek to raise the profile of the Wollondilly as while Wollondilly is a great tourist destination it is not as well-known as the Southern Highlands or South Coast / Shoalhaven areas. It will also seek to attract more visitors and encourage visitors and locals to spend (shop) and visit locally. The program will include significant digital marketing and promotions to ensure value for money as well as reach. There is the possibility of matched funding from NSW Government (under investigation). This program will work closely with the NSW Rail Museum (e.g. Steam Locomotive 3801 Promotions / 75th Anniversary of Thomas the Tank Engine)

 

·    $25,000 – Wollondilly Visitor Guide

The existing Wollondilly Discover Guide (Visitor Guide) was produced in November 2015 and its content, design and messaging is outdated. A new Visitor Guide has great potential to drive tourism and support economic recovery.

 

·    $25,000 – Wollondilly Markets Program

The Program would result in a number of markets being held across Wollondilly. The schedule will provide an opportunity for the smaller towns and villages to attract visitors. There will also be a number of major markets developed (e.g. Food & Wine, Car Shows and Support events at the NSW Rail Museum).

 

·    $50,000 - Planning for the Wollondilly Great Walk Project (joining the Blue Mountains and Wingecarribee through the extraordinary Wollondilly landscape). The Great Walk is a high level concept and this project would plan the details of the Walk route, identify infrastructure and other needs, and enable Council to work closely with our local NSW and Commonwealth MPs to garner support and government funding for the proposed Trek, which will ultimately attract future visitors to the Shire to support longer term economic recovery and growth.

 

It is proposed that any funding not required for the above activities due to alternative funding sources being secured be reported back to Council for re-allocation.

Consultation

Relevant Managers, Executive and Councillors have been consulted in the preparation of this report.

Financial Implications

The recommendations of this report will not impact Council’s adopted budget position however grant income and relevant expenditure lines will be revised by equal offsetting amounts to reflect recommendation 3.

 

Attachments

1.       Project Proposal - RFS Memorial Park

2.       Council adopted Master Plan for Telopea Park - Montage

3.       Council adopted Master Plan for Telopea Park - with adoption date  

Recommendation

That Council:

1.       Express its heartfelt thanks and congratulations to the Rural Fire Service, NSW Fire and Rescue, NSW Police, the State Emergency Service, all other emergency service organisations, all community organisations and volunteer groups, and the community of Wollondilly as a whole for coming together with courage and selflessness to help and support each other throughout this crisis and in its aftermath.

2.       Note the range of community recovery initiatives undertaken to date by Council to support the community in recovery from the 2019/20 bushfires including approximately $1.7m invested in bushfire response and clean up to date.

3.       Waive Council development application fees for residents whose homes, outbuildings and businesses have been lost or rendered uninhabitable in the current bushfire emergency, to be resourced from existing operational budgets, as follows:

a.       Pre-lodgement advice fees;

b.       Development application fees;

c.       Construction & occupation certificate fees;

d.       Pool inspection fees;

e.       Related application fees under Section 68 of the Local Government Act and Section 138 of the Roads Act.

4.       Write to the NSW Minister for Planning & Public Spaces the Hon. Rob Stokes MP and the Minister for Disaster Recovery the Hon. John Barilaro MP to request that the NSW Government waive all its development application fees that are collected on behalf of the NSW Government by Council for residents whose homes and outbuildings have been lost or rendered uninhabitable.

5.       Allocate funding from the Commonwealth Government’s $1 million Recovery Grant, provided to Council for projects and activities essential for the recovery and renewal of their communities, as follows:

a.       $500,000 to an additional playspace and suitable memorial to honour the memory of Deputy Captain Geoffrey Keaton and Firefighter Andrew O'Dwyer who tragically lost their lives in Buxton protecting our community and thank all our firefighters and community services at Telopea Park Buxton.

b.       $100,000 to establishing a Rates Payment Assistance Grant to directly support ratepayers whose homes are lost or uninhabitable due to the fires;

c.       $150,000 to support small business recovery within bushfire affected communities with economic development and tourism projects

d.       $250,000 to high priority clean-up and repair costs for Council in bushfire affected communities where other government funding sources are not applicable.

6.       Request the CEO review the capital works program to seek to bring forward capital works projects in other fire effected areas including Bargo and Oakdale.

7.       Work with the RFS to identify funding for high priority works for local RFS brigades to support future firefighting capability.

 


Extraordinary Council Meeting Agenda

11 February 2020

 

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Extraordinary Council Meeting Agenda

11 February 2020

 


Extraordinary Council Meeting Agenda

11 February 2020

 

   


Extraordinary Council Meeting Agenda

11 February 2020

 

11          Closed Reports   

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