Compensation for homeowners over public works

By Brendan Manning

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson. Photo / Wanganui Chronicle
Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson. Photo / Wanganui Chronicle

Compensation for homeowners whose properties are acquired for public works will be increased under changes announced today.

The Public Works Act 1981 will be amended to make land acquisition and compensation fairer and more efficient, Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson said.

Previously, when properties were acquired by the Government for significant public works such as motorways, homeowners were paid the market value, plus an additional $2000 solatium payment to compensate.

Mr Williamson said the $2000 figure was set in 1975 and was now too low to fairly compensate landowners. The solatium payment will increase up to a maximum of $50,000 - depending on the perceived level of disruption.

"Some families are third generation in their houses, their kids are at school, it's a huge disruption to the family and the pets and everything else, in which case those people will be way towards the $50,000 end of the settlement," Mr Williamson told Radio New Zealand.

Increasing the solatium would help speed up projects of national significance, he said.

A new solatium payment for land loss, in which the land acquired for a public work did not contain the landowner's home, would also be also introduced, Mr Williamson said.

"While there's currently no solatium under the Act for such situations, these landowners are still subject to disruption and other forms of inconvenience when their land is acquired for a public work."

The payment will be fixed at 10 per cent of the value of the land acquired - from a minimum $250 to a maximum $25,000, Mr Williamson said.

The Land Information Minister may also delegate powers to allow the chief executive of Land Information New Zealand to issue the notice of desire to acquire land, which will reduce the acquisition process by about two weeks.

The changes will be progressed alongside changes to the Resource Management Act and will reduce time and cost for land owners and acquiring authorities, Mr Williamson said.

- APNZ

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