Compulsory acquisition of coastal properties

WELLINGTON Shire Council will move to compulsorily acquire land along the Ninety Mile Beach for which owners could not be tracked down.

Council will tonight vote to acquire land from 430 owners as part of its Ninety Mile Beach Plan in a bid to end a decades-long saga.

The plan was established to protect the environmentally sensitive coastline from inappropriate development.

The issue goes back to the 1950s, when coastal lots were sold, some through the unscrupulous targeting of immigrants. It became apparent during the 1970s the land was unsuitable for development because of eroding soil, poor conditions for effluent disposal, and high quality vegetation.

With most land owners unable to build on their land, there have been calls for fair compensation.

A moratorium on development between settlement areas along the coast was adopted by council in 2007, along with a voluntary assistance scheme offering affected owners compensation to relinquish their lots.

Five years ago, council introduced permanent planning controls to prohibit development on inappropriate subdivisions between Golden Beach and Glomar Beach.

Despite an extensive process of engagement, diligent enquiries and detailed searches to locate owners of land south-west of the Golden Beach township since 2011, there are still 430 land owners council has still not been able to make contact with. As a result, these properties will be compulsorily acquired.

Council development general manager John Websdale said the compulsory acquisition process would not affect owners who had already registered in writing that they do not wish to transfer their land to council.

“Since January 2012, about 1400 lots have already been transferred to council as part of the voluntary assistance scheme. This means that approximately 68 per cent of the vacant lots in the ‘between settlements area’ are now publicly-owned.

“After the completion of the compulsory acquisition process, around 80 per cent of the lots in this area will be publicly-owned. These acquisitions will enable better protection for this section of the Ninety Mile Beach which is now zoned ‘rural conservation’, for the enjoyment of future generations.”

When council resolves to adopt the compulsory acquisition process, upon approval by state government, statutory notices will be served where possible and published as required by legislation.