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Forced acquisitions not attractive

21 November 2012

Forced acquisitions not attractive

Affected landowners should be concerned about two aspects of the way that the Christchurch Central Development Unit proceeds with compulsory land acquisition in the CBD, according to Catherine Schache, a commercial law specialist at Duncan Cotterill.

CCDU this week sent notices to the 47 owners of 104 properties tagged for projects in the central city blueprint, outlining its plan to take land.

Schache said that land owners had no rights of objection, other than on price and that only limited remedies were available to them under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act.

Judicial review of the decision. But this does not look at whether the decision is right but rather whether the Government has exercised its decision-making powers properly.

“It seems unlikely that a review would succeed where the land is being taken in a way that is consistent with the Recovery Strategy and Recovery Plan. Even if a review was successful, the Court would not reverse the Government’s decision and would most probably simply ask for the decision afresh,” Schache said.

A claim for compensation, based on the current market value of the land. Land owners have a statutory right to appear before the Minister for Earthquake Recovery, Gerry Brownlee, to dispute the amount of compensation – but not to debate the acquisition itself. “It is also worth noting that any compensation is based on market value at the date of the compulsory acquisition, rather than on registered valuation, as was the case for the residential red zoned properties, and is not paid until the amount of the compensation is finally agreed.”

Schache warned that compulsory acquisition could be very quick.

“Once the decision is made, it is a simple matter of serving notice on the owners, publicly notifying the intention, registering the notice on the land titles and publishing it in the Gazette (the Government’s official newspaper).

“While there is a maximum of three years (with a right of extension) to complete the acquisition, there is no minimum time frame between the issue of the notice of intention and the issue of the proclamation, which is the next step in the compulsory acquisition process.

“The Government can take the land 14 days after the proclamation is published and the owner has only one month to leave the land and to give the Crown vacant possession.”

Schache urged affected landowners to have constructive talks with the CCDU and continue with their good faith negotiations, rather than allowing the compulsory acquisition process to take over.


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