LAKE Macquarie council has moved to fast-track the design and construction of potentially dozens of community infrastructure projects outlined in its development contributions plans.
As part of its response to the economic impact of COVID-19, and after coming under fire earlier this year for how it was using funds collected from developers, the council has commenced a review of its DCPs to identify projects that can be brought forward and completed sooner than anticipated.
Beginning with the Glendale Contributions Plan, the council has selected 20 projects that it plans to bring to shovel-ready status.
The projects, which will cost about $25 million to plan and build, have been split into four packages of work.
Consultants have been engaged to create procurement documents and the council plans to seek quotes for detailed design work in August.
The aim is to make the projects shovel-ready so they can be built sooner, potentially years in advance of the delivery dates listed in the DCPs.
The Urban Development Institute of Australia and the Property Council are being consulted as part of the review.
"This ongoing work is helping to identify opportunities to accelerate the delivery of projects within the [DCPs] while also providing new opportunities for external consultants to provide professional services," a council spokesperson said.
"We're fast-tracking the design and construction of community infrastructure projects to allow for new jobs and construction work to continue where possible.
"A further 30 projects have been identified ... and packages of work are being developed.
"Focus is now shifting to the remaining [DCPs] to assess what packages of work could be advanced to shovel-ready or constructed."
Property Council of Australia regional director Anita Hugo said it was "encouraging" that the council had identified "opportunities to accelerate development contributions spend in a meaningful way".
It's important that councils deliver infrastructure as soon as possible but we also recognise that sometimes it does take local councils time to accumulate enough funds to be able to fund the bigger pieces of significant infrastructure," she said.
Elizabeth York, UDIA NSW's regional manager, said the identified infrastructure items were "critical for the local community".
"These [items] have already been funded by local development projects," she said.
"With the burden of COVID-19 impacting local jobs, it is timely for councils to be investing in economic development and a faster recovery."
Among the 20 projects identified so far are upgrades to Minmi Road in Edgeworth; new shared paths from Ada Street to Myall Road and Fifth Street to Harrison Street in Cardiff; a new park on Stockland Drive in Glendale; and a new shared path between Edgeworth and Cameron Park.
That path, which crosses Main Road, will ultimately enable a connection between West Wallsend and Glendale.