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Land acquisition

In NSW all levels of government can acquire privately owned land for public purposes. They may acquire the whole property, part of a property or an interest in the property including easements for power lines, sewer or water.

The acquisition of land is undertaken in accordance with the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 (the Act). The body acquiring the land is commonly called the 'acquiring authority'.

Most privately owned land, required by government for public purposes, is acquired by negotiation and agreement. The Act encourages this. When land is acquired by agreement the acquiring authority and land owner agree the amount of compensation and the Valuer General is not involved. The Act lists what matters can be considered during the negotiation and agreement. These are the same whether the land is acquired by agreement or by compulsory acquisition (except in hardship cases).

To assist land owners during the negotiating process, the acquiring authority will cover reasonable costs associated with this, including professional valuation and legal advice. The acquiring authority can advise what is considered reasonable.

When no agreement can be reached and the land cannot be purchased by negotiation the Governor of NSW can then approve compulsory acquisition of the land.

The majority of land acquisitions made are by negotiation and agreement.

Land acquisition reform 2016

In October 2016, the Government announced a range of improvements to strengthen the land acquisition system in NSW and make the acquisition process more transparent, more balanced and easier to navigate.

Details of the improvements can be found on the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation website - Land Acquisition Reform 2016.

More information

The NSW Government's Property Acquisition website

Valuer General’s policy, Compensation following compulsory acquisition (PDF 170.3 KB).

Valuer General’s brochure, Compulsory acquisition, NSW Valuer General’s role (PDF 1.7 MB).

The Valuer General’s fact sheet Compulsory acquisition of land (PDF 144.2 KB).

Government Guidelines - Determination of compensation following the acquisition of a business

Government Guidelines - Determination of compensation for disadvantage resulting from relocation 

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