Council votes to acquire land

26 August 2015

Council has voted to compulsorily acquire a pocket of land behind St Matthew's Church in QEII Square so it can continue to be public open space for ever.

The Church recently revoked a licence agreement that has been in place since 1966 that allowed the land to be occupied by Council for another 99 years (until 2065).

Mayor Kevin Mack said that that change prompted Council to negotiate to resolve the ownership or tenure of the land so that it could ensure it would continue to be public open space for the community.

Cr Mack said the compulsory acquisition was a last resort because other options had been exhausted.

"Council repeatedly offered to buy the 1355 square metres of land at what it believed was a reasonable price. Those offers were declined," he said.

"The amount we offered is confidential but we can say that it was based on a reasonable benchmark between the Valuer General's recommendation of $500 per square metre and a commercial valuation estimate that the Church put forward."

Cr Mack said the land, maintained by Council at no cost to the Church, had been open space for the community for the past 50 years and would continue to be open space for the community.

"The war memorial on that land will also remain untouched," he said.

Cr Mack said the land was critical to AlburyCity's Cultural Precinct Masterplan, which was adopted in February.

"We asked the Church for input into that plan at the time and it raised no objection," he said.

The land is currently occupied by builders working on the Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA) and will again become public open space as soon as possible.

"This land is significant to the community and it needs to continue to be open space for the community," Cr Mack said.