Katoomba misses out on funds

No money allocated: Crs Kevin Schreiber and Kerry Brown in Katoomba. They say the town is missing out on developer levy funds although it has the highest level of development in the Mountains.

No money allocated: Crs Kevin Schreiber and Kerry Brown in Katoomba. They say the town is missing out on developer levy funds although it has the highest level of development in the Mountains.

Katoomba is missing out on money from developers, despite having the highest rate of new home constructions in the Mountains.

Ward 1 councillors Kerry Brown and Kevin Schreiber say Katoomba has been allocated absolutely nothing in the next five-year distribution of Section 94 funds.

Section 94 funds are monies raised through development application fees.

Council’s figures show that Katoomba, with nearly 5,000 private dwellings, is the largest residential centre in the Mountains. It is also projected to have the largest growth (of 15 per cent) in the next 20 years.

Cr Brown said this means Katoomba is the biggest source of the S94 funds.

“The towns that are growing fastest are clearly the ones that will need more infrastructure. Yet neither Katoomba nor Leura, another high residential growth area, received a cent from the S94 contributions over the next five years,” she said.

The money will be spent on town centre improvements in Hazelbrook, Blackheath, Springwood and Blaxland. It has also been allocated to new play equipment in Glenbrook Park and to district parks at Glenbrook, Wentworth Falls Lake and Blackheath Memorial Park.

But Cr Brown said Katoomba has been recognised in the state government draft West District Plan as the major retail and tourism centre in the Mountains and a potential regional smart hub for other industries.

 “So why aren’t we using S94 funds to undertake feasibility studies and grant applications to the state government for Katoomba?

“For instance, solving the gridlock at Yeaman Bridge onto the highway at Katoomba is cited in the draft West District Plan as a potential infrastructure project. Using a small portion of S94 funds for a traffic study would enable us to pursue major state funding for Yeaman Bridge.” 

Both Cr Brown and Cr Schreiber are concerned that Katoomba’s needs are not being met. The pair unsuccessfully sought to have an advisory committee set up to liaise between locals and council over the town’s masterplan, which is scheduled to begin in 2019-20.

A council report said such a committee would be “premature”.

Cr Schreiber said the local community is not being listened to.

“The chamber [of commerce] has been left out of it. There no communication with small business and small business is the life blood of the Mountains.

“They [council staff] don’t go to the chamber of commerce meetings, they don’t find out what’s happening. I think it’s totally unfriendly to business.”

Cr Schreiber said the same issues were raised repeatedly: Yeaman Bridge, parking, toilets and an information centre near the station.

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