Item 8.8 - Attachment 8

Detailed Report - Voluntary Planning Agreement








1.         A Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) offer has been made by the land owners of 2-12 River Road West Parramatta, in conjunction with a planning proposal to rezone the land from IN1 General Industrial to B4 Mixed Use, enabling development up to 14 storeys in height.


2.         Council’s endorsement is sought to proceed with negotiations for the VPA and that this be reported back to Council at a later date.




3.         A planning agreement can be made under section 93F of the EP&A Act and is a voluntary agreement between Council and the developer, under which the developer is required to dedicate land free of cost, pay a monetary contribution or provide other material public benefit, or any combination of these, to be used towards a public purpose. This may be in lieu of a s94 or s94A development contribution, as a part substitution or an additional benefit.


4.         The Act specifies that a public purpose includes the provision of public amenities or public services, the provision of affordable housing, the provision of transport or other infrastructure relating to the land, the funding of recurrent expenditure relating to any of these, the monitoring of the planning impacts of a development and the conservation or enhancement of the natural environment.


5.         Council has an adopted VPA policy which sets out the principles governing such agreements, matters that Council will consider in negotiating agreements, steps in the negotiating process, public probity, notification requirements and implementation. The EP&A Act and Regulation sets out the legal and procedural framework for planning agreements.


6.         The negotiation of a planning agreement is at Council’s discretion. Key principles of Council’s policy are that:

-     planning decisions will not be bought or sold through planning agreements,

-     development that is unacceptable on planning grounds will not be permitted because of the benefits of a planning agreement,

-     the benefits of the planning agreement will bear a relationship to the application,

-     Council will not give undue weight to a planning agreement when making a decision on a development application, and

-     Council will not improperly rely on its position in order to extract unreasonable public benefits under planning agreements.


7.         Procedurally, Council’s policy requires:

-     a Council resolution to undertake negotiations on a planning agreement,

-     appointment of a Council officer with delegated authority to negotiate a planning agreement on behalf of Council (this is not to be an officer with a key responsibility for the development application),

-     consideration of whether an independent person is required to facilitate the negotiations,

-     public exhibition of the draft agreement, once prepared, and

-     the elected Council will ultimately make the decision as to whether to approve the planning agreement.




8.         An indicative written offer (Attachment 7) has been provided by the land owners for 2-12 River Road West, Parramatta in respect of the VPA as follows:

·     Dedication of river foreshore land along the northern side of 2 -12 River Road West, being 15 metres in width as measured from the northern site boundary, to be used for public open space purposes (the proponent suggests that this would have a value of in excess of $5 million. However, this is yet to be formally valued).


·     Provision of public facilities within the dedicated foreshore area including public pathway and landscaping to enable public access.


·     A monetary contribution of $750,000 towards a pedestrian and cycling bridge over Parramatta River (linking the northern and southern sides of the River Foreshore).


9.         The indicative offer states that the VPA offer would be in lieu of any future development contributions. The timing of the proposed works, land dedication, payment of monetary contributions and other details of the VPA would be subject to the negotiation process.


10.       The value of the works offered has not been provided at this stage and would also be addressed in the negotiation of the VPA.



11.       The public purpose of the VPA offer includes the dedication of land for open space and the provision of public amenities, and potential enhancement to the natural riparian environment through weed removal and suitable re-vegetation and landscaping.


12.       The public benefit associated with the indicative offer includes the creation of a public river foreshore link that provides a ‘missing’ link along the river front between the Parramatta CBD and James Ruse Drive. This link will provide a connection for future shared pedestrian and cycleways linking to the existing river foreshore network.


13.       The proposed works will also activate the foreshore, provide a public domain focal point and enhance the natural riparian corridor through weed removal and indigenous re-vegetation.


14.       The monetary contribution toward the pedestrian and cycle bridge over Parramatta River will provide a new connection linking the northern and southern sides of the Parramatta River between Gasworks Bridge and James Ruse Drive bridge.


15.       The indicative value of future development is likely to exceed $100 million. Based on this, the expected S94A contribution would exceed $1,000,000 in accordance with Parramatta City Council Section 94A Development Contributions Plan, which requires a contribution equal to 1% of the cost of development. The applicant is proposing that the VPA would be in lieu of a development contribution for future development.


16.       The advantage of a VPA over a development contribution payment is that works can be implemented at or near the same time as development occurs and there is greater certainty about the timing of delivery of works which are directly related to the proposed development.




17.       The draft VPA will need to be fully investigated and assessed under the terms of Council’s policy & the Act and Regulations. As part of this process, the following will need to be assessed:


-     The suitability of the actual area to be dedicated to Council;

-     The public benefits of proposed works;

-     Whether a monetary contribution would be preferable to works in kind under the VPA;

-     Consideration of the standard and extent of proposed works;

-     Timing of the land dedication, works and payment of monetary contribution;

-     Assessment of the value of the VPA vs S94A contribution;

-     Maintenance obligations for the shared path, landscaping and the like;

-     Potential for additional VPA contributions e.g signalisation of River Road West and James Ruse Drive intersection.


18.       If Council wishes to continue with the process, a cross functional team will be established to assess all aspects of the proposed VPA and to report directly to the CEO.




19.       There are potential planning and public benefits in the draft VPA proposal that should be further explored. Accordingly, this report recommends that, as required by Council’s VPA policy, a formal resolution be made to proceed with negotiations and an appropriate officer be given delegated authority to negotiate the VPA on Council’s behalf. The draft VPA will also need to be reviewed by Council’s legal representative. It is recommended that delegation be given to the CEO of Council to negotiate the VPA.


20.       VPAs must be notified publicly under the EP&A Act and Council’s policy. The draft VPA should be notified with the planning proposal. The outcome of the negotiations and the public exhibition should then be reported back to Council for a decision about whether or not to execute the agreement.