Compulsory acquisition

Crown land can be compulsorily acquired via a statutory process by suitably empowered authorities, usually government agencies. Most acquisitions support development of public infrastructure such as schools, roads, hospitals and parks.

NSW acquiring authorities

The Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 NSW (Just Terms) provides a statutory process for empowered authorities to acquire any interest in land for a public purpose. Just Terms can be used by entities who are authorised by their  own legislation to undertake compulsory acquisition, being:

  1. a statutory body representing the Crown
  2. a council or joint organisation within the meaning of the Local Government Act 1993, or
  3. any other authority authorised to acquire land by compulsory process.

The department is responsible for the state’s interest in land administered under the Crown Land Management Act 2016, and it represents the registered owner’s interest in Crown land that is subject to a compulsory acquisition.

The acquisition process

Authorities make a notification to the department that they intend to compulsory acquire any interest in land as defined by the Crown Land Management Act 2016. This can include Crown land of any reserve purpose, Travelling Stock Reserves (TSRs), Crown roads and unidentified Crown land, waterways, substratum and stratum lots, easements and commercial leases.

There are many interests in Crown land other than the registered owner’s interest. Pre-acquisition procedures of Just Terms require the authority to be satisfied that all interests in the land have been identified.

The rights and interests of Aboriginal people and communities must be considered by the authority as part of the pre-acquisition procedures. Compulsory acquisition cannot proceed where there is an undetermined Aboriginal Land Claim over the land. All Crown land is considered to be subject to Native title unless a determination of Native title has been made by the Federal Court.

The review process undertaken by Crown lands after receiving notification of a compulsory acquisition is described in the Acquisition of Crown land Guidelines ((PDF 574.1 KB)).

Compensation to the State of NSW for the registered owner’s interest in land subject to compulsory acquisition is determined at market value, either by agreement between the department and the authority, or by determination of the Office of the Valuer General. Market value is determined by a registered valuer in accordance with Section 55 of Just Terms or Treasury Directions for transfers of realty between government agencies.

Compensation may be claimed by other parties with an interest in the land.

Should the authority wish to obtain access to, or construct on the land whilst the land is held in the Crown estate, the authority should seek to contact the relevant Crown lands Regional Services office on 1300 886 235 to discuss available options.

Further information about compulsory acquisition of Crown land is available in Frequently Asked Questions.

Notification of proposed acquisition

To notify the department of a proposed compulsory acquisition please use the online notification form. The online form requires the following mandatory information and supporting documentation.  It is recommended that this information be obtained and supporting documents be ready to upload before entering the notification form.

  1. A detailed description of the proposed acquisition sufficient to understand its full extent and likely impacts
  2. A detailed site plan, diagram or survey showing the location of the proposed acquisition
  3. Agents Authority to Act (if applicable)
  4. Results of a recent search by Office of the Registrar, Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 showing that the proposed acquisition is not affected by an undetermined Aboriginal Land Claim (ALC); OR
  5. Evidence from the lodging Land Council of concurrence to the proposed acquisition and withdrawal of any ALC impacting the site/s of the proposed acquisition
  6. Geospatial Search Report from National Native Title Tribunal
  7. Ownership Status Report from an Information Broker or the Crown land Status Branch

Acquisitions under Commonwealth legislation

Authorities empowered by Commonwealth legislation to conduct compulsory acquisition should contact us to discuss the relevant process.