About Western Lands leases

Nearly all the land in the Western Division is held under Western Lands Leases granted under the Western Lands Act 1901. This legislation will be replaced by the Crown Land Management Act 2016 (the Act) later this year.

The 6,600 Western Lands Leases in NSW, include:

  • 4,300 for grazing
  • 573 for agriculture
  • 1,593 for residence
  • 165 for businesses

These figures are subject to change as leases are purchased and converted to freehold title. In addition, the department oversees 16 Crown Reserves leases, 173 Crown and irrigation area leases, and 816 licences to occupy Crown land.

Conditions

Conditions are attached to each Western Lands Lease to ensure the land is managed sustainably. That means that land must not be over-grazed and that approvals must be obtained to cultivate land and to subdivide or transfer the lease. The Western Lands Commissioner has the power to impose notices on lessees to destock areas, refrain from certain activities, or rehabilitate damaged or degraded areas.

Term and purpose

Most leases are perpetual (ongoing) and can only be used for a designated purpose. If different or additional uses are sought, an application to alter the lease purpose or lease conditions must be made, which may require a review of environmental factors.

Rent

The Crown charges an annual rent for leases. In accordance with the Act, grazing and agriculture lease rents are based on the total area of the property and on the environmental impact of the land use, including a credit for managed conservation. Rents for residential and business leases are 3% and 6% of the unimproved land value, respectively. The Act also includes provisions for all Western Lands leaseholders to apply to purchase their lease to obtain freehold title, subject to certain eligibility criteria.

To support economic growth and investment the new legislation changes provide an opportunity for some rural leaseholders in the Western Division of NSW to apply to purchase their leases.