Page 2598 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 10 August 2016

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I am very concerned about the processes used to purchase land in and around Canberra. There are concerns about the government’s acquisition of land adjacent to Glebe Park, which is the substance of today’s motion.

The story is as follows. The land in question, city block 24 section 65, was on a market lease from May of 2007. The lease is 12,335 square metres and it was quite restrictive. Only a small hospitality venue was allowed to be constructed on the site, to a maximum GFA of 650 metres. It is important to note that the lease did not allow for residential development. There was also a development condition, 3a, within the crown lease requiring commencement of the erection of a parkland within the lease at a cost of not less than the sum of $1 million within 12 months of the lease commencement and completion of the said development within 36 months of lease commencement.

This was an issue a few years ago. The Greens raised it in the Assembly in 2011. In response, Minister Corbell, who was at the time the planning minister, said:

The government will be making it very clear and have already made it very clear to the leaseholder that we expect that approval to be acted upon, that we expect those works to be undertaken. We will follow that through with the usual compliance activity and options that are available under the relevant planning legislation.

Importantly, the then planning minister, Mr Corbell, said:

The government will not consider any change to the territory plan that permits residential development or indeed any development beyond that which has already been granted under the lease.

He would not approve residential at the site, Madam Deputy Speaker. Fast forward a few years and the government sought a valuation. A thorough document was provided on 25 August 2014 valuing the property at $950,000 to $1,050,000. It was based on the market value. The government chose not to accept this valuation and, perhaps wisely, sought a second opinion. It was received in the form of a valuation advice of May 2015. This time, the format of the valuation was quite different. The text included:

The proponents of the land wish to develop part of the land with a residential apartment complex which occupies 2,500 square metres of the footprint of the site with the balance being public open space and interface. The current scheme provides for an eight (8) level building above basement car parking and is to yield some 122 units.

It goes on:

The market value of the site will represent the existing value of the site plus a percentage of the development rights resulting from a lease variation and payment of LVC.

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