Posted on 01 Feb 2022
Residents of Melbourne’s inner west who claim their property values have plummeted due to the West Gate Tunnel being built beneath them are stepping up their fight for compensation after negotiations with the Victorian Government have failed to reach a resolution.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers has lodged dispute determination applications with VCAT on behalf of a representative group of Yarraville residents whose underground land has been compulsorily acquired for the $10 billion toll road.
Compulsory acquisition lawyer Adrian McMillan said five claims had been referred to VCAT to proceed as test cases for 40 affected property owners who had banded together to pursue their claims through the law firm.
The homeowners are seeking up to 10 per cent of their property’s value in damages.
“It’s disappointing that these matters weren’t resolved during negotiations, but we’re pushing ahead to ensure that our clients receive the compensation they’re entitled,” he said.
“This is the first time a dispute of this kind has been pursued in Victoria. Reflecting the importance of the cases and novel application of law to be applied, VCAT President Justice Michelle Quigley has agreed to our request to hear these test cases.”
Mr McMillan said the land titles of all claimants had been created before December 1891, meaning they owned the land below their homes to the ‘centre of the earth’. In contrast, for land titles issued after 1891, ownership is limited to only 15 metres below ground.
“Just because the land is underground does not mean there is no effect on the value of the property,” Mr McMillan said.
“People’s property rights are being diminished because of these acquisitions and they are therefore entitled to compensation. We look forward to VCAT considering the detailed expert evidence prepared in support of our clients claims, which shows impacts on values of up to 10 per cent on the values of properties at the date of the acquisitions in May 2018.”
The cases go before VCAT today for orders to be made on the programing of the cases towards full hearing.