Government supports ‘Mr Fluffy’ homeowners return to their blocks

Released 25/07/2017

The ACT Government has moved to reduce uncertainty for Mr Fluffy homeowners by bringing on the debate on the Liberal’s disallowance motion around extending Land Rent and implementing the Draft Variation to the Territory Plan (DV343).

Minister for Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman said it was important that these two issues were resolved as quickly as possible to enable homeowners looking to return to their blocks and rebuild to do so.

“The opposition disallowance motion moved in November last year meant the taskforce could not provide owners who are subject to the change, a resale price, therefore no offer could be made,” Minister Gentleman said.

“This has understandably led to frustration for owners whose houses have been demolished, or will be demolished in the next six months, and they want this critical information to consider their options through First Right of Refusal arrangements.

Minister Gentleman said that rather than wait for the politics of the Opposition the Government asked the Asbestos Response Taskforce to press ahead with their demolition schedule to remove houses safely and efficiently. To date 77 houses have been demolished.

Minister Gentleman said the variation to the Territory Plan, now passed, was an important but modest, measure which allowed the Government to balance their ongoing support for homeowners with flexibility of housing choice and also the need to defray costs of the Buyback and Demolition Program for the broader Canberra community.

“This variation was subject to robust and thorough public consultation process since May 2015. It will provide uplift to the sale of blocks but also importantly provide flexibility for purchasers, which in many cases will be homeowners returning to their blocks,” he said.

The variation DV343 applies to Mr Fluffy blocks surrendered through the Buyback Program in Residential Zone 1 (RZ1)and over 700m2 and enables dual occupancy to be built. This is already permitted for blocks that are 800m2 or larger in RZ1.

It also allows unit titling which means the houses can be sold separately, but importantly, it is not subdivision.  Blocks will not be divided or sold separately.  In most circumstances dual occupancy dwellings are required to be single story unless they both have street frontage and other planning permissions apply.

“Just like any rebuild in an established suburban street, neighbours will have the opportunity to comment on proposed development applications if a dual occupancy building is to occur,” Minister Gentleman said.

Minister Gentleman was also pleased the Land Rent Scheme had been passed for affected eligible owners.

“Land Rent is not a scheme usually extended to people purchasing land in established suburbs as it is an affordable housing measure retained for greenfield sites,” Minister Gentleman said. “However noting the circumstances of this issue the government has extended it to further assist owners with a genuine desire to return for the long term to their communities.”
Eligibility criteria remains the same as the broader Land Rent Scheme as does the rent being calculated, which is on the Unimproved Land Value.

However an important and necessary distinction has needed to be made to ensure it remains fair for other owners and the broader community.

“If an owner decides to convert the lease it is to be done at market value, noting that all other affected owners are purchasing their land back at market value, and to prevent the opportunity for gaming of this generous provision,” Minister Gentleman said.

“As it is a support to enable the owners to return to community, it also cannot be transferred to other purchasers.”

Minister Gentleman said that he understood that as owners started to receive land valuations, there may be some mixed emotions and encouraged owners to continue to work with the Taskforce on their individual circumstances.

“I am pleased that these important measures have been passed and that the government continues to provide a compassionate response while also balancing our responsibility to the broader community,” he concluded.

- Statement ends -

Section: Mick Gentleman, MLA | Media Releases

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