As local governments will be aware, the recent package of reforms to infrastructure planning and charging includes a requirement that an LGIP amendment undergo a compliance check performed by an appointed reviewer.

Many local governments are currently preparing their LGIP, in the knowledge that infrastructure charges cannot be levied after 1 July 2016 if they do not adopt an LGIP before that deadline. This includes those local governments that are required to amend a former PIP to comply with the requirements of statutory guideline 03/14.

As a member of DSDIP’s panel of approved LGIP reviewers, we have received a number of queries from local governments about how the review process will work. We thought it timely to share our thoughts on some of the more commonly asked questions.

When should a local government appoint a reviewer?

The answer to this question depends on the review approach to be undertaken. Some of the local governments we have been speaking to are proposing to appoint an LGIP reviewer at the beginning of the LGIP preparation process, allowing the LGIP reviewer to provide advice on the LGIP as it is being prepared. The benefit of this approach is that potential issues can be identified and rectified early, resulting in less subsequent re-work and a much greater likelihood of a successful review. This should result in overall time and cost savings to the local government.

Alternatively, the reviewer can be appointed after the LGIP has been prepared, but prior to the Minister’s review. This approach runs the risk that the LGIP reviewer might identify components of the LGIP that do not comply with requirements of the statutory guideline. The impact of this non-compliance would be exacerbated if the non-compliant component has a flow on effect through the entire LGIP.

Can a consultant who prepared the LGIP be appointed as the LGIP reviewer?

Statutory Guideline 03/14 states that a consultant who drafted an LGIP amendment for a local government can also act as the Appointed reviewer provided they are on the ‘Panel of approved LGIP reviewers’.

What impact will a potential change of government have on a decision to prepare an LGIP and appoint a reviewer?

The Queensland Labor Party has written to the Queensland Branch of the Property Council of Australia stating that it will not seek to replace, rename or politicise good planning reforms. It has further stated that is not intending to make changes to SARA, the single SPP and infrastructure charges if it wins government. On this basis, it is likely that the existing SPA provisions which only permit infrastructure charges to be levied after 1 July 2016 if an LGIP has been adopted will remain. Similarly, it is likely that the requirements for making or amending a LGIP, including the appointment of a reviewer will not change.

How much will an LGIP review cost?

The cost of an LGIP review will depend on the size of the local government’s urban area, its growth forecasts and the amount of future trunk infrastructure planned to service that growth. PIE Solutions would be happy to discuss LGIP review costs with local governments in more detail, having regard to their particular circumstances.