Wollongong councillors have voted to forge ahead with a future land release south of West Dapto, despite costs of about $231 million for the area's roads and infrastructure.
At this week's council meeting, Cr Ann Martin said the Yallah-Marshall Mount development area, earmarked for about 4000 homes, was a vital part of the state's housing strategy and needed to be funded properly by the NSW government. Yallah-Marshall Mount is the fifth planned land release area in the West Dapto area, for which costs have leapt by $157 million, putting the required infrastructure well outside the council's budget.
Amending a staff recommendation to indefinitely park a rezoning proposal to allow the homes and "sustainable village centre", Cr Martin called on the council to prepare a detailed infrastructure plan by September.
She said the plan should include timelines and expenditure, to allow the council to make a formal submission to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal - the body which sets rates and utilities costs - for the future development costs of the entire West Dapto area.
She emphasised the request for IPART's support was about asking the state government and developers, to take responsibility for the "second largest land release area in NSW", adding: "This is not something we can afford to walk away from, so we need to just bite the bullet and do the work."
Liberal councillor John Dorahy agreed government support was needed, saying it was vital for the council to continue the progression of the development to help free up new land and houses for young home buyers.
Questioned by lord mayor Gordon Bradbery, planning director Andrew Carfield said the council had already spent $425,000 on putting together the plans for Yallah-Marshall Mount, which did not include staff time.
He said the report requested for September would "include significant additional staffing time and technical reports", which would cost "well over $100,000".
Cr Bradbery agreed to support the motion, but said he had grave concerns about using developer contributions alone to fund the infrastructure, as increased developer costs could push up house and land prices.
Only independent councillor Greg Petty did not support the motion, because he said he had already asked for a budget for West Dapto for the next 10 years.