Changes to NSW's Crown land laws have the potential
to open up new business and operational opportunities for the
What is promised to be the biggest package of changes to NSW
Crown lands governance in more than 25 years is poised to unlock
the potential in the Crown estate, with leases being granted on
regular commercial terms and a more competitive approach to the
continued use of Crown land.
The reforms recommended by the White Paper currently out for
public comment seek to increase the community's and the private
sector's ability to access Crown land on a competitive
Mining, agribusiness, and tourism are three sectors which should
be looking at the White Paper now, and getting ready for the new
What is Crown land?
Roughly 42% of land in NSW is Crown land (not including national
parks and state forests) with a total value of over $11
Crown land will often be in the form of:
beaches, estuaries and waterways;
parks, ovals, walking tracks and other recreational grounds
(which are Crown reserves managed by Councils or community
land used for community halls (such as Scouts, Guides and surf
land used for caravan parks and other tourism facilities;
land used for grazing; and
land used for commercial ventures such as marinas, restaurants
and aged care facilities.
Why is the law changing?
Crown lands are currently governed by eight different pieces of
legislation – some of which is of limited relevance as their
historical purpose has diminished or disappeared. The multiple
instruments have resulted in duplication and inconsistency between
The proposal is for one new comprehensive Act to replace the
existing legislative framework and simplify the management of Crown
The recommendations in the White Paper demonstrate a shift in
the use of Crown land towards private entities and opening it up
for the benefit of the wider community. They're focused on
simplifying Crown Lands legislation and minimising delay and
Who will be affected?
Changing the way Crown land is utilised could potentially have
broad effects across NSW on existing and potential users, both
community groups and businesses alike.
Crown land is used by a large proportion of the population on a
regular basis via local surf clubs, parks, golf courses,
showgrounds, etc, so any change to its governance or use may
resultantly impact a large number of people and community
Additionally, a significant number of businesses rely on use or
tenure of Crown land, from grazing livestock to running a
How will the use of Crown lands change?
It is expected that the new legislation will:
establish the Crown Lands Division as a public trading
enterprise with the objective of maximising the
return to the government and the community from the use of
provide for the payment of market rent as the default
position under leases of Crown land (with rebates and
waivers applied where appropriate);
standardise the way in which Crown land is
valued (having regard to the hypothetical value of the
land as if it was a freehold parcel);
require an entity administering Crown land to evaluate
the expected return to be provided to the Government and
the community when permitting the use of an asset (and taking into
account the opportunity cost of allowing an asset to be used in
such a way); and
implement stronger compliance and enforcement
provisions which will provide penalties for damage and
unlawful use of Crown land.
What does this mean for the private sector?
For the private sector, the reforms have the potential
to open up new business and operational
Tenants under Crown land are currently bound by certain
provisions of the Crown Lands Act which make it impracticable to
operate standard business and development models. Removing
restrictions to enable leases to be granted on terms and conditions
more regularly found in commercial leases will provide greater
flexibility in the use of Crown land.
What does this mean for community groups?
For community groups, the streamlining of administration should
provide greater certainty in relation to use and tenure. Clubs,
organisations and institutions using community facilities will
benefit from the reforms which will make governance and management
processes simpler and more efficient.
How can I make a comment on the proposed changes to Crown land
NSW Trade & Investment is currently calling on submissions
in response to the White Paper and you can have your say until 20
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