In talking with several developers recently, it seems that the issues around trunk and non-trunk infrastructure and what’s creditable v. non creditable is alive and well. A few developers that we’ve spoken with are quite frustrated in having received development approvals imposing conditions that require them to deliver (without credits) what they believe to be trunk infrastructure. When we ask them if they have considered lodging a ‘conversion application’ the typical response is ‘what’s that?’.
Put simply, a conversion application is an application that developers can make under the Planning Act 2016 (Section 139) to convert ‘non-trunk infrastructure to trunk infrastructure’.
In short, the classification of infrastructure as trunk or non-trunk guides the conditions that Authorities can impose on a development approval. Whether you can get offsets against your charges depends entirely on whether the infrastructure is deemed to be trunk or not.
From a definition perspective, ‘trunk’ infrastructure is defined based on size and function, most commonly referred to as higher-level infrastructure that is shared between multiple developments. ‘Non-trunk’ infrastructure is infrastructure that is generally internal to a development site and not shared with other developments. Examples of trunk infrastructure might be a 225mm dia sewer main that serves multiple developments and located either internal or external, an upgrade of a district collector road external to the site that is being used by multiple users or the provision of a new district collector road as part of a broader structure plan that serves multiple developments within the structure plan area.
When considering making a conversion application, developers must have a strong case and be confident that the infrastructure they have been conditioned to provide serves a trunk function and not a non-trunk function. A snapshot of the conversion process is:
- Application made in writing to the Authority (with relevant supporting information);
- Within 1 year after the development approval starts to have effect and prior to the commencement of construction of the non-trunk infrastructure.
- The Authority has 30 business days to consider and decide the application (or request additional information).
So next time you believe the non-trunk infrastructure that you are conditioned to provide clearly serves a higher level, trunk function, it might be worthwhile considering a conversion application to change the designation and achieve the entitled offsets.