Response to misleading comments about Blenheim Park properties
Published on 01 February 2019
The City of Ryde would like to respond to a media report in today’s Daily Telegraph entitled ‘Pair lose home but no compo’ and subsequent media coverage made about these Blenheim Park properties, including on A Current Affair.
The claims made are misleading, inaccurate and do not reflect that Council is both acting in the best interests of its ratepayers, the wider community and also following the correct legislative process.
This is a complex issue that has stretched over three years.
The owners of the properties in question submitted a planning proposal to change the zoning of the area from a low residential density zoning to a high residential density zoning. This proposal was rejected by both Council and the Department of Planning in 2016.
Following this and subsequent discussions with the property owners, the City of Ryde resolved to acquire the three properties at Blenheim Park and submit a Planning Proposal to have the land re-zoned to Public Recreation in order to provide more open space for the community. In 2017, the NSW Department of Planning approved Council’s rezoning request and the properties were compulsorily acquired in August 2018 .
Since then, Council has made every effort to compensate the owners for the acquisition. In doing so, it has followed the exact process required under the relevant legislation in compensating the owners, including accommodating a hardship application for acquisition that was initiated by the owners.
At no point has Council breached the relevant legislation or breached the hardship claim.
Property NSW issued the final Valuer General’s determination late on 21 December 2018 and Council has 45 days to review and action the next steps.
Council is considering the Valuer-General’s determination and the basis on which it was made as Council is responsible for the proper management of public funds.
If Council simply went ahead with the purchase and was later found to have over-paid for the properties, it would fairly face criticism from the community and ratepayers. Council is therefore fulfilling its duty to ensure that ratepayer money is not wasted.
It was also not until after acquisition that Council discovered that the properties had been tenanted by the previous owners – they had not informed Council of this previously. Again, Council, as a landlord, has a legislative responsibility to identify those tenants and secure the properties to make them safe. A failure to do so would once again put Council and ratepayers at risk of subsequent compensation claims.
As with all of the parties involved The City of Ryde is seeking a swift resolution of the matter. The sooner a new park and recreation area is in place for the community the better. That cannot be at the expense though of ignoring the due process, legislation, safety or most importantly, at the risk of leaving Ryde ratepayers out of pocket.