Slater and Gordon practice group leader Roger Batrouney said land required for the twin nine kilometre tunnels will mean that properties in Kensington, North Melbourne, Parkville, the CBD and South Yarra will be affected. This will be on top of any surface properties that are acquired for the construction of the five new stations along the proposed route.
“Hundreds of property owners in the CBD and affected suburbs whose properties sit above the proposed route of the Melbourne Metro Rail Project may be entitled to seek compensation,” Mr Batrouney said.
“The entitlement of each owner will dependon the age of their title and whether there has been any need to re-issue the grant since 1891. For example, if a property has been subdivided since that time, there might have been a need to create a new title.
“Many home owners in these areas will be entitled to compensation on the basis of their titles extending to the centre of the earth. However, we believe that property owners are probably entitled to compensation irrespective of whether their title goes to the centre of the earth or only down to 15 metres.
“These property owners may be obliged to tell prospective purchasers that their property is situated above the proposed tunnel. If such disclosure is required, then they should be entitled to seek compensation for the loss in value that their property suffers as a result of having the tunnel pass underneath it,” he said.
The Government has announced that the tunnel would run at a depth of just 10 metres under the alignment of Swanston St, meaning that any underground land required for that stage of the project would unequivocally need to be acquired from its owners.
“The proposed alignment is likely to pass under both residential and commercial properties. In some cases, commercial land may have large underground facilities that could be disturbed or have further development potential curbed by a large tunnel passing under the land,” Mr Batrouney said.
“In large projects such as the proposed Melbourne Metro Rail, it is open to the Government and acquiring authority to acquire land underground without giving notice to the property owners. This can catch people off guard and leave them unaware of their entitlement to compensation.”
Property owners who believe they may be affected by the project are urged to seek independent legal advice.