Beveridge Williams helps end MPL uncertainty, delivering considerable savings to our client

Beveridge Williams has played a key industry-leading role in ending the inconsistent interpretation of the government’s Metropolitan Planning Levy by growth corridor Councils and contributed to our clients achieving considerable savings on their projects.

The Metropolitan Planning Levy (MPL) is a levy applied to all planning permit applications for development inside the Melbourne urban area. The Levy requires the payment of $1,300/$1m for all projects valued above $1m, payable to the state revenue office prior to the lodgement of a permit application with a local Council. The Levy is designed to raise funds to enable the provision of infrastructure into established areas to accommodate the substantial additional development required to support Melbourne’s expected population growth.

When the Levy was enacted, it was not clear as to whether it applied to large subdivision applications, usually located on the outer areas of Melbourne. This uncertainty led to some growth corridor Councils requiring proof of payment of the Levy prior to accepting planning permit applications for subdivision, whilst other Councils did not require pre-payment. The resultant inconsistency was frustrating for the development industry and led to the delay of applications, and therefore of economic activity, until clearer direction was provided on the issue.

The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) commenced lobbying the state government to address this. To support their case, the UDIA sought legal advice regarding the issue which argued that many of the elements of a subdivision application were exempt works, which therefore did not attract the levy.

To test and support the legal opinion, Beveridge Williams’ planners prepared the attached summary confirming the planning status of the works ordinarily associated with a large greenfield subdivision. The summary confirmed that most works were exempt. This summary, along with the legal opinion, was submitted to government by the UDIA with a request to address the inconsistency and adopt the UDIA’s position.

On 13 May the government advised that it agrees with the UDIA and it will move to issue a Ministerial practice note confirming the exempt status of most of the works associated with large subdivision applications. This effectively avoids the levy for these projects. Further, the government will refund all levies previously paid in error. This is a welcome outcome for our clients and the industry in general.