As the population and the needs of the general community change over time, governments require additional land for the development of infrastructure. This may include construction or widening of roads, installation of sewerage and drainage works, and construction of rail projects amongst other needs. In many circumstances, governments will require a part (or the whole) of a property which is owned by private individuals/companies in order for the infrastructure to be developed for the community.
Governments are entitled to acquire land owned by another pursuant to a process commonly known as compulsory acquisition. Compensation will be paid to the landowner on the basis of fair market value for the land compulsorily acquired. The landowner’s costs relating to the acquisition, such as legal costs, valuation costs, finance fees, etc. will also be compensated by the relevant acquiring government.
For those living in the Gold Coast area, there are two significant projects which continue to be developed: the Gold Coast Light Rail, and the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Many will remember in recent history the development and construction of the first stage of the Gold Coast Light Rail project, which was a substantial piece of infrastructure in which the State government required additional land from many landowners in order to construct the rail corridor. Consultation continues with respect to stage 2 of the Light Rail, and it is to be expected that any extension of that infrastructure will require the State to acquire additional land from existing landowners.
Additional infrastructure needs are also being considered and developed ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games which is being hosted on the Gold Coast, and at some venues in Brisbane. If you have heard of any proposal for infrastructure needs which may affect your property, you may well be approached by the State or local government who will seek to acquire some or all of your land.
In Queensland, the process of compulsory acquisition is regulated by the Acquisition of Land Act 1967. As the more common name implies, once government has decided on an infrastructure project, land will be acquired on a “compulsory” basis. Whilst that may be the case, the government must still comply with the process set out in the Act by:-
- Giving a notice of intention to resume to a landowner which must set out the dimensions and area of the land to be acquired, the purpose for which the land is required, and the landowner’s right of objection; and
- Allowing any landowner to object to the resumption, however, that objection must state the reasons for the objection and the facts and circumstances supporting that objection. Any reason relating to the amount of compensation is not a ground of objection.
Under the Act, any objection by a landowner must be considered on its merits before the government proceeds with the resumption, either in the original form notified to the landowner or in an amended form, depending on the circumstances of the proposed resumption.
Should you have any queries or issues with respect to compulsory acquisition of land, or if you wish to obtain advice with respect to proposed acquisitions affecting your property, we invite you to call a property lawyer at ABKJ to discuss further.