Draft policy states principles for selling Council land

A draft Land Transaction Policy that would determine the principles applying to the sale of Council land is open for public comment until September 11.
The policy would apply where Central Coast Council sells road reserves.
This has occurred on the Peninsula with the sale of a road reserve to Umina aged care provider Peninsula Village.
It has also been requested for the development of Umina Mall shopping centre in Ocean Beach Rd.
It would also be the process ultimately followed if the Peninsula’s pocket parks were to be sold, although a statement accompanying the draft is at pains to dissociate the policy from the prospect.
“The process to sell Council owned land is very complicated and is something that is only considered after many checks and balances have been undertaken.
“Firstly, only operational land can be sold, so community parks and facilities (community land) can’t be sold unless the land can be reclassified.
“Any reclassification requires thorough community consultation as well as State Government approval – and Council would need to demonstrate that the reclassification would not reduce the community’s access to open space or recreational land.
“All these decisions require resolution at Council’s meeting, which requires the elected Councillor’s support.”
The draft policy states: “Land sales should normally occur through a competitive open market process (for instance: expressions of interest, auction, or private treaty undertaken by an estate agent).
“Exceptions may occur only in special circumstances, such as sales to adjoining landowners of small lots that are not developable as stand-alone lots or that have little use or commercial appeal to the wider market, or where a competitive process is not appropriate or practical in the circumstances.
“Any proposal to sell land other than by a competitive open market process must be authorised by a Council resolution.
“All land which Council proposes to acquire or sell requires thorough investigation through a due diligence process, ensuring a net tangible benefit to Council or the public.
“As a minimum, this process must include: preparing a business case or land transaction plan; assessing the strategic value of the land having regard to need, the geographic context, environmental values and applicable strategic plans; assessing opportunities to capture uplift in the land through value adding proposals if applicable; inspecting Council records relating to the land; carrying out appropriate site investigations; and for land owned by Council, confirming the land classification and the historical details of the acquisition.”
The draft policy states that “a valuation must be obtained for acquisitions, sales, land swaps, or easements by an independent registered valuer who is suitably qualified in the asset type and locality”.
However, it does allow staff to do the valuation in some circumstances.
“An assessment of the value of land or easements may be undertaken by Council staff if the land or easement is of low strategic or financial value, or a valuation has been recently undertaken and Council staff can confirm the validity of the previous valuation.”
As well as sales, the draft policy also applies to and has provisions for acquisitions, the creation of easements or restrictions over Council’s land, land swaps, dedications and donations of land, for transfer or vesting of land in Council by government agencies.

Website, 19 Aug 2020
YourVoiceOurCoast, Central Coast Council