This circular replaces DFSI-2016-09 Improvements to NSW Land Acquisition Processes.
In response to reviews of land acquisition processes by David Russell SC and the Customer Service Commissioner, the Government introduced legislative and administrative reforms on 1 March 2017. These reforms include new requirements which all acquiring authorities now need to be compliant with – Attachment A.
This circular continues the Government’s commitment to a land acquisition process that is both fair and efficient by imposing a number of operational requirements on acquiring authorities to ensure–
Landowners/residents are, and feel they were, treated fairly, with empathy and respect, and had the support and information they needed to manage the land acquisition process in accordance with theLand Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act.
The community feel confident the Government applies consistent, transparent, and fair land acquisition processes, support and compensation outcomes that deliver public value – both financial and social.
The Government feels confident the property acquisition process is fair, transparent and is listening to and responding to community feedback.
The Government supports the delivery of the optimal resident, community and project outcomes.
Property Acquisition Standards have been developed to ensure acquiring authorities are complying with the new requirements – Attachment B. Acquiring authorities will be expected to progressively comply with the standards, with full compliance by State Government agencies on 30 June 2017. The standards will be reviewed on a regular basis and updated as necessary. Easements are not in scope for the initial release of standards.
Furthermore, the Government has introduced new administrative processes for compensation appeals in the Land and Environment Court (LEC) to minimise the number of cases where landowners are presented with different compensation amounts. The changes take effect from 17 July 2017. The new requirements are twofold:
Government agencies will be subject to a review procedure which will be initiated when the acquiring authority intends to lead evidence in the LEC that supports a lower compensation amount that that determined by the Valuer General. The review will be conducted by a member of the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation Hardship Review Panel who will determine if there are reasonable grounds or not for the acquiring authority to lead evidence for an amount lower than the statutory offer. The review will only apply to a single residential property and does not apply to Local Councils or State Owned Corporations.
Government agencies will need to provide written communication to the Landowners/residents informing them that the statutory offer of compensation remains available until the LEC makes its decision. This communication should be issued as soon as practicable after the landowner has lodged an objection to the statutory offer.
Both the Property Acquisition Standards Group (PAS) in the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation, and the Centre for Property Acquisition (CPA) in Transport for NSW will work closely with State agencies and Local Government to assist with the implementation of the reforms and new administrative processes. Local Government will be expected to be fully compliant to the standards by 30 September 2017.
All enquiries, including advice on the approach to in-flight or near term acquisitions, may be directed to the CPA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further information, including the NSW Government response to the Russell and Customer Service Commissioner Reviews and related guidance materials, are available at www.landacquisition.nsw.gov.au.