The request for reservation of land, or the designation of easements, generally occurs at the subdivision stage. Among other things a plan of subdivision will generally provide easements and/or reserves for existing or future drainage, flooding, wetland and stormwater quality management purposes.
Easements and reserves may also be required for water and sewerage purposes. Our policies and procedures for acquiring land and, where appropriate, for reimbursing developers for such land or easement rights are outlined below.
In addition to our requirements, developers are strongly encouraged to consult with the relevant municipal council to ascertain their requirements. Many councils have prepared development plans to guide urban development.
Where we require land for a specific purpose, the transaction must ensure we either become the registered proprietor or hold alternative tenure which entitles it to receive rights consistent with its intended use of the land. The land must be capable of being zoned in the planning scheme for the appropriate usage.
Where freehold ownership is not appropriate we may consider alternatives, including easements, covenants, leases, licences and legal agreements. Collectively these are regarded as acquisitions of an interest in the land. For example, where land affected by flooding has been recognised with an appropriate zone in the planning scheme, a drainage and floodway easement would normally suffice.
Where we require a reserve to maintain absolute control over the land, and other parties wish to use the land for compatible purposes, they'll be encouraged to set aside easements over the land or to incorporate other arrangements to facilitate future maintenance (such as maintenance agreements). Examples include, but are not limited to, council shared pathways.
Acquisition of land or interest in land should be undertaken by voluntary negotiation. When voluntary acquisition is not successful, we may consider compulsory acquisition using the legislative procedures established for this purpose.
We'll reimburse developers for setting aside land from development, where there's a regional benefit, such as a retarding basin and/or wetlands, but only if provision is made for such works in a drainage or redevelopment scheme.
We won't generally reimburse developers for land in reserves or for an easement that is subject to flooding or is an existing waterway prior to development. The encumbrance of such land is deemed to be necessary as part of developing land for urban purposes, in much the same way as easements and reserves for roads, water and sewage services. However, there may be some instances where a developer is disadvantaged through circumstances beyond the developer's control. We'll consider such exceptions on their merits.
The basis for valuing land for reimbursement purposes will be in accordance with the Principles for creating development services schemes.
We'll conduct negotiations in a commercial, judicious, ethical and legal manner, in compliance with the Policy and Instructions for the Purchase, Compulsory Acquisition and Sale of Land as issued by the Minister (August 2000). Best practice probity and accountability processes will be followed.
Approval of the Government Land Monitor (GLM) is required for all purchases, compulsory acquisition, and compensation payments in excess of $0.25M (exclusive of GST). Unless approved by the GLM, land mustn't be acquired for an amount in excess of a valuation carried out by a registered valuer listed on the Valuer General - Victoria panel of valuers.
Determining the value of land
Our Property Team is responsible for negotiating land purchases utilising Valuer General - Victoria valuation advice. The Property Team will provide a preliminary assessment of a proposed land acquisition for us, investigation of other tenure options, engagement of external consultants and conduct of landowner acquisition negotiations.
In accordance with Development services scheme Principle 16, the value of the land will be based on the undeveloped broad acre land value at the date of the offer, recognising the underlying development potential of the subject land.
Our position on the reimbursement will be aligned with our registered valuer or the Valuer General's assessment. There's some scope for negotiation from this point.
Legislation and government guidelines we're required to follow include:
- Land Acquisition and Compensation Act (1986)
- Planning and Environment Act (1987)
- Water Act (1989)
- Subdivision Act (1988)
- Transfer of Land Act (1958)
- Valuation of Land Act (1960)
- Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999)
- Trade Practices Act (1974)
- Environment Protection Act (1970)
Reimbursement for land
Land acquired must be suitable for its intended use. Acquisition proposals must take into account site history, potential future uses, applicable occupational health and safety considerations, local planning scheme guidelines, and relevant environmental regulations.
Where previous site usage indicates the possibility of land contamination, a site investigation by a qualified environmental consultant will be conducted and the results considered as part of the valuations process.
Timing of reimbursement
The timing and relevant date of the valuation is the time a works offer is made. However, if our asset for which the land is sought isn't required in the short term the land transfer/reimbursement process may be delayed or brought forward by agreement.
It's advisable for the developer's consultants to work closely with us in the feasibility and design stages to come up with an optimal solution which minimises the amount of land to be encumbered by drainage works, and to identify when the land should be transferred and the reimbursement made.