The Facts

RTA land sold to private buyer

This case concerned a property in south-western Sydney. The property was landlocked by three neighbouring houses to the south/east and by a council reserve to the north/west. Behind the council reserve was a footpath that ran along a river and was used by the public as a walking track.

For many years, the property had been owned by the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA), which had plans to build a road along the river. However, the road was never built and the RTA eventually sold the land to a private buyer.

Attempts to negotiate with neighbours for access to property

The landowner attempted to gain vehicle access to the property from the south/east but was unsuccessful in his negotiations with the neighbouring landowners. He then requested that the council grant an easement to create a driveway across the council reserve to the north/west, adjacent to the footpath.

The council denied the request and the landowner made an application to the Supreme Court of NSW.

case a - The case for the landowner

case b - The case for the council

  • I have made genuine attempts to negotiate an easement from neighbouring properties, without success. I have correspondence to prove this.
  • By the council's own admission, the local area is well serviced with open space which is adequate for public recreation. Granting the easement would have no effect on the public use of the land.
  • I engaged a registered valuer, who set the value of the easement at $54,000. I am offering to pay the council this sum, which is adequate compensation.
  • The land I bought is zoned residential. It's in the public interest that I be able to develop and use the land in a way that is consistent with this zoning, which is why it's necessary that an easement for vehicle access be granted.
  • The landowner was well aware when he bought the property that it was landlocked and did not have any vehicle access.
  • It is against the public interest to have an easement in the form of a permanent driveway imposed over community land.
  • It is not possible for the council to be adequately compensated for the loss or disadvantage to the community arising from such an easement.
  • The landowner has not made reasonable attempts to negotiate an easement with the other neighbouring properties.
  • The easement is not reasonably necessary for the effective use or development of the land.

So, which case won?
Cast your judgment below to find out

Vote case A – the case for the landowner
Vote case B – the case for the council

Neville Hesford
Property and building disputes
Stacks Law Firm

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