Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

Surf View Estate

Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (17:39): My adjournment matter is for the attention of the Minister for Planning and is on behalf of over 40 Surf View estate landholders, who have just been told the land they purchased four years ago and still have active contracts on is being sold as one parcel of land. The action that I seek is for the planning minister and the department’s counsel to meet with these landholders in Torquay to find out how the situation has affected them and to find out if there are any other legislative changes that could be made to stop this from happening to other landholders in the future. Back in 2016 blocks of land within stage 7 of Surf View estate in Torquay came up for sale. Excited families purchased lots for around $200 000 to $330 000, and these blocks would probably be worth around $500 000 to $600 000 now at least. Several court cases were filed between adjacent landowners. The developer went broke. The former mortgagee in possession did not start works for stage 7, and so this land is just sitting there vacant. Currently Balmain Private, which is an American investment company, holds the mortgage over the Ironbridge property and is trying to find a new buyer for the whole parcel of land, the 42 blocks. It mystifies me that land can be sold when there are 40- plus active contracts that have not even had a sunset clause exercised. It is also frustrating that no caveat can be applied by these landowners because the land has not settled. Last week landowners who have been waiting five years for land to title see a ‘For sale’ sign being erected, apparently selling their land as one parcel, which is disgraceful. This issue does not affect just stage 7 purchasers. Those who purchased land at a premium price and built their forever home facing the future park have been short-changed, because the park has not even been built yet. It is on Ironbridge’s land. Council do not own the park and reserve until two years after the developer has finished the works there. I must thank the minister for hearing the concerns of these landowners and others years ago and taking action, with the passage of the Sale of Land Amendment Bill 2019. This bill among other things retrospectively limits sunset clauses. However, the sunset clauses have not been exercised on these lots, so when Balmain sells this land these 40-plus contracts will be another fight. The sunset clauses will not exist anymore. Some of the landowners are now keen to put their money together and apply for a loan to complete the development. They want to keep their blocks, and they rightly do not want to pay over double their contract price to keep them. The only way I see this happening is if the purchasers buy the parcel of land from Balmain and the state government appoints a developer and assumes the risk of the development costs, and it is repaid later by the purchasers. Therefore the state government would not end up out of pocket at all and these landowners would get their land at a fair price. I look forward to hearing from the minister about a visit in the near future, facilitated by me, to meet this group of landowners.


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