08/06/2004 - 22:00

Bunbury rezoning fight

08/06/2004 - 22:00

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STATE Government plans to rezone coastal and riverfront land under the Greater Bunbury Region Scheme have prompted an angry response from affected landowners, a farm lobby group and the property sector.

Bunbury rezoning fight

STATE Government plans to rezone coastal and riverfront land under the Greater Bunbury Region Scheme have prompted an angry response from affected landowners, a farm lobby group and the property sector.

About 30 landowners will be affected by the GBRS, which will rezone large tracts of land for proposed regional open space.

Following the rezoning, the WA Planning Commission can compulsorily acquire the land and use it for any purpose that it sees fit.

The Government will pay compensation for compulsorily acquired land, but opponents of the proposal are concerned at the length of time this rezoning process may take.

A draft scheme was issued in September 2000. Affected land-owners were posted a map detailing which parts of their land were designated for rezoning.

Spokesman for the Greater Regional Action Group, Filip Gugliemana, owns four hectares of Capel riverfront property, 2.4ha of which will be rezoned under the new scheme.

“Once the scheme came out in draft form, it essentially put landowners in limbo and totally devalued the land,” he said.

“The same thing happened in the Peel and it was seven years before the final scheme was put down, in the meantime nothing can be done with the land.

“We feel as though we are scapegoats for other development projects. Just because we have taken care of our land and kept remnant vegetation, we are being targeted.

“While we support the need for planning in our region we have a number of issues with the regional open space proposed zoning which can lead to compulsory acquisition at some point in the future.

“Landowners have been totally disregarded, local government totally ignored, landowners’ incomes and investment plans have been placed in limbo and they have been pushed to the point of despair by teams of bureaucrats working to take their land.

“There has been no social impact study done to consider loss of employment and disruption to the community, there is no management plan or costing of looking after resumed land, and alternatives raised by landowners have been totally ignored.”

REIWA councillor and chairman of the working party that formed the Coalition for Property Rights, Joe White, said the Town Planning and Development Act was being misused to confiscate land after systematically blighting its value.

“As a real estate agent for 15 years I can with absolute certainty say that nothing will drive the value of land through the floor more convincingly than uncertainty over future land-use capacity,” he said.

Mr White told WA Business News the failure by senior bureaucrats to allay doubts as to what compensation “might be payable” should a resumption occur was another obstacle to a satisfactory outcome for landowners.

“The Real Estate Institute of WA, the Property Council of Australia and the Urban Development Institute of Australia will fight the erosion of private property rights as though our lives depended on it – because our lives and livelihoods do depend on it,” he said.

“Only when the owners of every house in every street in every suburb and town in Western Australia become fully aware of how their castle is threatened will REIWA, PCA and the UDIA feel as though we have achieved the end of the beginning.”

Pastoralists and Graziers Association private property rights chairman Craig Underwood has seen the effect of the Peel Regional scheme first hand, and says it is devastating.

“As many as 350 people had their land totally devalued and then the Government moved to resume that land,” he said. “People’s life savings and super were just gone.”

“If the Government wants an asset they take it by stealth.  Where there is a public benefit, it cannot be at private cost.”

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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