Community protest has so far halted construction in the park because the City has actively opposed the State Government’s compulsory acquisition of around 7,000 square metres of our park.
Tragically, the Minister for Roads announced just days before Christmas that he had rejected the City’s appeal and the RMS would proceed to take occupation of the acquired land along Campbell Road and Euston Road. Right now, our legal staff are exploring every option to ensure the Government only uses the land it has authority to access.
Below I've detailed the changes to the ownership and legal uses of land at Sydney Park as a result of the State Government’s WestConnex project. The City's CEO, Monica Barone, outlined these changes in a letter to the community this week.
We will continue opposing WestConnex, challenging the Government's compulsory acquisition and doing everything we can to limit the negative impacts of this devastating project.
In summary, the State Government is in the process of compulsorily acquiring sections of Sydney Park and has used section 175 of the Roads Act to use that land from 1 January 2017 to commence work.
History of ownership
- 15 April 1994 – RMS acquired a portion of the land along Euston Road. The portion of land widens as Euston Road approaches Campbell Road. Since that date, the land has continued to be used as Sydney Park, but has been in the ownership of RMS.
- 30 September 2016 – By compulsory process, RMS acquired a lease interest in additional land at Sydney Park near the corner of Euston Road and Campbell Road for 42 months. The City did not agree to the compulsory acquisition, but successfully negotiated to have RMS acquire a lease interest rather than ownership.
The lease to RMS commenced on 30 September 2016. However, RMS was not able to access the land because the process for compulsory acquisition set out in the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act was not complete.
- 17 November 2016 – The City received notice from RMS under s175 of the Roads Act for RMS to use and occupy the area for works in relation to WestConnex from 1 January 2017. Section 175 of the Roads Act allows a roads authority (in this case, RMS) to take possession of land when constructing a public road.
The City believes that this notice was issued to allow RMS to access the land prior to completion of the compulsory acquisition process. The City had seven days to appeal this notice.
- 24 November 2016 – The City wrote to the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight and the Minister for Local Government to appeal the s175 notice. The City argued that the City and RMS had not agreed to the following:
- How continued access to and use of Sydney Park (including driveway access) will be provided to the community.
- The condition of the land when it is handed back to the City at the expiry of the lease.
- How the toilets and other structures would be managed during the term of the lease.
- 15 December 2016 – The City received a letter from the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight attaching RMS’s response to the issues raised in the City’s appeal letter. The Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight also noted that the Minister for Local Government had delegated his powers in relation to s175 of the Roads Act to him in this matter.
- 19 December 2016 – The City wrote to the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight responding to the issues raised in RMS’ letter of 15 December 2016.
- 21 December 2016 – the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight wrote to the City determining that the s175 notice should stand and access be provided to the Property in accordance with the s175 notice.
The current situation
Under s175(4) of the Roads Act, the decision of the Minister on the City’s appeal against a compulsory lease of parts of Sydney Park is binding and final. On this basis, RMS has pursued its statutory rights and the City has no further appeal rights under the Roads Act.
Currently, the process for compulsory acquisition of the leasehold interest is still underway. However, due to the operation of s175 of the Roads Act, RMS is legally able to access the land and commence works. The rights of RMS under s175 of the Roads Act will come to an end once the compulsory acquisition process is complete.