An elderly couple cannot afford to build on a block of land that they have owned since 2004 nor can they afford to sell it because they are caught in a vice like grip of a Bega Valley Shire Council development condition. The condition requires the construction of a 6.4 metre wide bitumen sealed road at a cost of about $100,000 over crown land.
Ronald Knapman and his wife, Mary own a 4.5 acre lot on Nethercote Road, Greigs Flat. The couple live in Sydney and they bought the land with the dream of building a home for their retirement.
Access to their land is from Nethercote Road via crown land. Their property and other adjacent lots were, according to notation on a survey completed in December 1961, part of the “Pambula Gold Field, proclaimed in February 1890.” Of the four lots that use the crown land access, two are developed with domestic dwellings.
In a plea to the council at its meeting on February 6 to correct this injustice, Mr Knapman said it had destroyed “all hope of building an affordable home”.
He cited a case where the owner of a lot was forced to withdraw it from sale because of the onerous nature of the council condition.
“In 2011, Lot 89 was sold subject to the buyer obtaining Development Application approval from Bega Valley Shire Council. That approval when received carried the condition that a 6.4 metre wide bitumen seal standard road be constructed over the crown land.
“I am advised that the cost to build the road is in the vicinity of $100,000: a substantial sum to add to the cost of any home and one which, in this case, the buyer could not afford. The buyer therefore withdrew the offer to purchase and the land remains unsold.
“With a council development condition that carries so heavy a financial burden, it is doubtful if the land will ever be sold or developed for who will buy or build under a condition such as this?”
Mr Knapman said the first they had heard of the council condition was when they were made aware of the seller’s plight in January 2012.
“My wife and I now find ourselves in the same position as the owners of Lot 89 because we use the same crown land access.”
Mr Knapman said that council had failed to inform them of the road requirement.
“We received no advice on this matter from council that would have provided an opportunity to object or otherwise challenge this condition that so materially affects building costs and resale values.
“We bought our land in 2004, two years before the condition of which I speak, was adopted by council.” Mr Knapman wondered how many other owners in a similar situation might be in for a similar financial shock and the helplessness of shattered dreams.
“A hundred thousand dollars is beyond my means to pay. I therefore cannot afford to build nor can I sell at a fair market price. Who will buy a $175,000 piece of land that has $100,000 of road cost hanging over it before building can start?” Mr Knapman asked the council.
He said that the current all-weather road that serves Lots 119, 90 and 93 is maintained by the three landowners in a good and safe condition.