NSW Government agencies will need to review and change their
compulsory land acquisition processes - and get ready for longer
time-frames - with the NSW Government adopting reforms recommended
by the Russell Review of the NSW Land Acquisition (Just Terms)
Compensation Act 1991 and the Pratt Housing Acquisition Review. The
introduction into Parliament of Bills to implement the changes is
expected this week.
Why NSW reviewed its compulsory land acquisition process
In 2012, David Russell SC was commissioned to review the current
legislation regarding compulsory land acquisitions in NSW; the
Russell Review made 20 recommendations in 2014 for reform of the
land acquisition system.
This year, Premier Mike Baird also asked the Customer Service
Commissioner, Michael Pratt AM, to review the process, with a focus
on landowners and residents. The Pratt Review made 20 reform
recommendations based on a citizen-centric approach.
On 18 October 2016, the Government released its response to the
Russell Review and Pratt Review and agreed that changes are
necessary to ensure that landowners are supported through the
difficult situation of compulsory land acquisition. The Government
has proposed legislative and administrative changes which seek to
make the system fair, transparent and provide landowners with more
time, support and clear information.
Key legislative and administrative changes to NSW land
a fixed six-month negotiation period before compulsory
acquisition can commence; and
acquiring authorities must provide the Valuer General with
information regarding issues of compensation no later than 7 days
after compulsory acquisition.
a new plain English Land Acquisition Information Guide;
changes to the collection of data about land acquisitions and
the publication of land acquisition data.
Managing the acquisition:
the Valuer General must contact the landowner to discuss the
valuation and then provide a preliminary valuation report to the
land owner before final determination is made;
acquiring authorities must now hold at least one face-to-face
meeting with the landowner and provide the landowner with the Land
Acquisition Information Guide; and
landowners to be allocated case managers throughout the land
amendments to the compensation form to make it easier to
the landowner will provide the claim for compensation form to
the Valuer General (rather than the acquiring authority);
the Valuer General gives the landowner the compensation
determination and report directly (at the same time as to the
the Valuer General will have more time to provide the
compensation notice (up to 45 days, but can be extended to 90 days
with the agreement of the Minister for Finance, Services and
Property) to ensure that all issues are adequately addressed;
a new maximum amount for solatium (to be renamed
"disadvantage resulting from relocation") of $75,000
(rather than $27,235) backdated to 26 February 2014.
After the acquisition:
a new process of merits review of hardship decisions made by
acquiring authorities, to be undertaken by non-government
reinstatement for the purchase of a comparable property will be
available in limited and specific circumstances;
former land owners will no longer have to pay rent to the
acquiring authority for up to three months after compulsory
if the land is no longer required by the agency, the former
landowner will have first right to repurchase the property.
The legislative amendments are expected to be introduced into
Parliament this week.
The reforms will not only mean agencies must overhaul their
processes. They will also need to re-evaluate timeframes for
infrastructure delivery, given the new minimum consultation and
assessment periods proposed to be implemented.
Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide
commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon
as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular
transactions or on matters of interest arising from this bulletin.
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This article is the first in a series to examine the new Planning Act 2016 and how it may impact on future development.
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