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Horsham land owners can trigger their right to compensation

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Land owners affected by the proposed Public Acquisition Overlay for the Horsham Bypass may be entitled to compensation despite their properties not yet being acquired, according to a senior compulsory acquisition lawyer.

Slater and Gordon Practice Group Leader Roger Batrouney said under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (VIC), the owner or occupier of land that is shown to be affected by a public acquisition overlay in a proposed amendment to a planning scheme has a right to compensation for any loss suffered as a consequence.

“It is quite common for land owners to access compensation before their land is acquired,”  Mr Batrouney said.

“The compensation could be for a loss on sale attributable to the land being the subject of the overlay, or for the loss suffered as a result of the refusal of the Council to grant a permit to improve or develop the land,” he said.

An independent planning panel recommended that an amendment to the Horsham Planning Scheme to implement a public acquisition overlay for the Horsham Bypass be deferred until the Horsham Rural City Council had completed two reports related to transport in Horsham. VicRoads has accepted the recommendation.

“Despite the fact that the overlay may ultimately be abandoned, the right to compensation still arises,” Mr Batrouney said.

“If you make a claim for compensation of this kind, it is important to remember that the State Government is required to pay your reasonable legal and valuation expenses incurred in making that claim."

“In some cases, the amount of compensation received can be significantly higher than the Government’s first offer. It is important that people are fully aware of their rights and entitlements under the relevant legislation.”

If the amendment is incorporated into the Planning Scheme and land is compulsorily acquired, Mr Batrouney stressed the importance of affected land owners seeking independent legal advice in a timely manner.