A Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) is a contract between Council and a Developer that the Developer will provide a bucket of cash to Council when its Planing Proposal is approved. The Developer is not required by law to enter into such an agreement, it is optional.
If this all sounds incredible, it is. Typically, a VPA seems to be discussed when the Developer is seeking conditions over and above the standards.
A recent example of a VPA relates to the Meriton development in Albert Avenue on the old car park site. Meriton proposed to upgrade two approved towers of 32 and 29 storeys to 37 and 47 storeys. To “sweeten” the deal the offered Council a $12 million dollar incentive. When this offer was made the majority of Council who had previously voted to refuse the application changed their minds.
The VPA includes wording such as:
It is agreed that the total Monetary Contribution will be expended at the discretion of Willoughby City Council for the following Public Benefit Works including but not limited to:
1. Upgrade of Chatswood Oval and surrounds including new playing surface, upgrading of grandstands and change rooms, provision of a gym for both general community use and sporting club use, walking paths, regional playground, community garden and childcare.
2. Upgrade of the Chatswood High Oval to a synthetic surface and redevelopment of the abandoned tennis courts for multi-purpose activities.
3. Upgrade of playing surface at Beauchamp Oval, including drainage improvements and change room upgrades.
4. CBD streetscape improvements where required, it being noted that the works may vary as planning and costing’s for these are further developed.
Timing of the Monetary Contribution
The total monetary contribution shall be payable upon issue of the First Occupation Certificate in relation to the residential or serviced apartment lots but excluding any public car parking. If an Occupation Certificate is not issued within 4 Years of this agreement, then the monetary contribution shall be indexed in accordance with CPI.