Sale of Public Land at 85 Torquay Blvd., Jan Juc

This is a copy of the letter the committee sent to the Surf Coast Shire about the sale of public land in Torquay Blvd, Jan Juc: -

"The committee of the 3228 Residents Association Inc. has a number of concerns about the sale of public land at 85 Torquay Blvd., Jan Juc. The council appears to have two alternatives to rectify the illegal constructions at 81 Torquay Blvd –give notice for the illegal constructions to be removed or sell a portion of public land to the owner of 81 Torquay Blvd. While the second option may alleviate the illegal encroachment onto public land, it doesn’t address the illegal nature of the second dwelling. Nor does it take into account the fact that this parkland is actively managed by a public,” friends of” group and has been an ongoing dispute between the adjacent landowner and the public for approximately ten years. We find it difficult to understand how this has been allowed to occur.

We have read the attached Local Government best Practice Guideline for the Sale of Land and feel that there are some aspects of the guidelines that have not been adhered to. On Page 6 under the heading General Principles, Point 3 states –

“3. Sales, exchanges and transfers of land should be in the best interests of the community and provide the best result, both financial and non-financial, for the council and the community.”

We don’t believe the sale of this land upholds this principle as the only beneficiary is the owner of 81 Torquay Boulevade. This proposed sale will set a precedent which will allow all landowners adjacent to any parkland in the shire to purchase at a discounted price. It also sends a message to other landowners that they can construct illegal building with impunity. Byron Shire council has a huge problem with illegally constructed dwellings and extensions. Strong action is required to avoid a similar situation occurring here over time. The defense of “not knowing” about illegal encroachment (as recently used as a defense in Anglesea) is also not acceptable. The onus is on purchasers to check that the property they believe they are buying is identical to that on the property title.

Below is a list of questions/concerns that we believe must be addressed if the process is to be seen as being transparent and not disadvantaging the ratepayers.

  • We would like a copy of the instruction letter to the valuer and a copy of the current valuation.

  • What was the valuation of the land when the sale was proposed several years ago? We would like to see any previous valuation.

  • Has a conditional sale been entered into?

  • Has a planning/building permit ever been issued for the rear building? A resident has informed us that - Council has previously advised that it is a shed and does not require a permit.  However there is currently a bed, kitchen and lounge chairs in the rear shed and people who appear to be living in it.  The person who is currently leasing the property advised me that she wanted to put tenants in the rear building over Christmas and this appears to have occurred.

  • Will a retrospective permit be required for any illegal structures constructed on the land?

  • If the sale proceeds, what penalty will the purchaser pay for the illegal activities?

  • Will a Section 173 agreement (preventing subdivision and development of the additional property) be required?

  • What have been the total cost to council, over time, of the illegal activity including - legal fees and staff time over the past years, surveyors, fencing, repair of fencing, removal of fencing

  • Will the purchaser be required to pay all those costs if a sale proceeds?

  • If the sale proceeds – what will the money be spent on?

  • Council resolved to sell the land in July 2013 –why did it wait until Christmas holidays to inform the public?

  • Why was the person who inquiries were directed to, by reception, not available until 2nd of January?

We note from Page 2 of Best Practice Guidelines – that the following should be included in the notice -  •

“- how the property/ies is/are to be sold or disposed of (i.e. by public auction, tender, private treaty);

              -  the time frame for the proposed sale/exchange of land;

            •- the prospective purchaser/s if this is known;”

  • Why has the purchaser not been identified in the Notice?

  • Why has the method of sale not been identified in the Notice ?

  • Why has the time frame for the sale not been identified in the Notice?

  • What amount of money has council set aside to cover the cost of appearing at VCAT to attempt to defend the proposed discounted sale of public park land if a community member(s) chooses to do so?

Also -Page 11 of the Best practice Guide states –“ Given the nature of land generally offered for sale/exchange, the differences in value of the land for the vendor and the prospective purchaser, and the likely public perceptions of the proposed transaction, the highest standards of probity and transparency must be applied and be seen to be applied. When proposing to sell/exchange land by private treaty and having considered the nature and value of this land, and how the proposed sale/exchange was initiated, it is advisable that a probity auditor be appointed to oversee the probity of the transaction.”

We look forward to your response and would be happy to meet with the relevant officers to discuss our concerns."

This is a link to the best Practice Guide -

We have not received a formal reply from the surf Coast Shire.

Submissions close on 24th January at 3.00pm.