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May 11, 2021

Value capture and Belongil

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Value Capture: Jamie Briggs, then Federal Minister for Cities and Built Environment, went to Hong Kong to study it – got distracted and lost his portfolio; Premier Mike Baird was leading that 2015 delegation, thinking that maybe an HK outfit (a mostly government owned one) could help build a Sydney rail line or two.

The Turnbulls, Lucy and Mal, are/have been keen advocates.

So what is value capture?

When a piece of useful infrastructure is built, the land/properties serviced by it appreciate in value; value capture is when the builder of that infrastructure recoups some or all of that appreciation instead of it flowing into the pockets of the land owners.

It is not a new idea having been used to part fund the building of Sydney Harbour Bridge but was given a great boost when HM Treasury reported that the new Jubilee London Underground line had cost £3.5bn to build and surrounding land values had increased by £13.5bn; the report was titled, ‘Taken for a ride’.

Value capture has been mostly used for mass transit systems, eg Melbourne City Loop and Chatswood station in Sydney and has been a matter of trading some development rights in return for the infrastructure. If rail lines, why not rock walls?

If we are forced into building and maintaining a rock wall at Belongil, then the concept of Value Capture could well sharpen the minds of our Council – staff and elected – as to how to fund the infrastructure, who benefits and who loses out and at what cost.

Value Capture does entail a most thorough examination of any proposal including all the legal aspects and time lines.

The community must however remain on ‘full alert’; it is too easy for public bodies, councils and the like, to yield that which is not theirs to give, not to drive hard bargains on our behalf.

Lest we be ‘Taken for a ride’.

Colin Cook, Bangalow


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