A ‘PHANTOM’ privately-owned block on prime beachfront land in Quindalup could result in the city becoming embroiled in a significant compensation case, which could have an impact on ratepayers.
Mystery surrounds how the lot, acquired more than 40 years ago, could have gone undetected by the city to the point it had trebled in size – and also put its own infrastructure on it.
According to the consultant for the company, former shire CEO Michael Swift, the owners, Commercial Estates, have paid rates on it.
However, the city evaded the question when asked about it by the Mail.
It was asked that if rates have been paid, then why wasn’t the city aware of it, which would have alerted it long ago to the property being privately owned, which has grown, from 1000sqm to 2.97ha, because it goes to the high water mark.
The city is in a potentially costly battle over the block.
At stake is not only compensation – for placing infrastructure on the property or if it is forced to come to a financial deal to acquire the land, but also possible access being blocked to the beachfront for the length of the property.
A title search by the Mail shows the land was part of a farm owned by former top jockey and trainer Colin Tulloh and Jack Patton, whose family still lives in the district.
Commercial Estates acquired the property in 1970.
Another intriguing question is why the privately-owned property has been dormant for so long, to the point that it was able to treble in size.
The Mail asked the city and Mr Swift specific questions about the rate aspect, which appears to have enabled the property to slip under the city’s radar.
“Commercial Estates were the developers of other land in Quindalup and have owned the land for a long time,” Mr Swift said.
“The owners have been paying rates. They own to the high water mark, and the title was recently adjusted to reflect long-term accretion. Legally the accretion must be ‘natural, gradual and imperceptible’ for the title to be adjusted.
“I don’t know how it came about that the city entered the land to build the pathway, bridge and informal car park. Interestingly, this situation is not unique. I have been involved in a similar situation in the east of the city, in which the owner owns up to the high water mark and the city had built a road on his land.
“However, in that case the city entered into dialogue and a resolution was found reasonably quickly, whereas in this case our attempts to discuss the matter have been rejected.
“The owner of Lot 480 wants to resolve the matter by discussion with the city. In the absence of the city’s willingness to discuss the matter the owner had to decide what to do with the land in the event that the city does not want to acquire it as a reserve and that is what has prompted the application for a single dwelling.
“There are very important issues about respecting private property rights at stake here.”
The city was more guarded and would not answer detailed questions from the Mail, particularly about the rate aspect.
“For legal reasons, the city is unable to make any further comment in relation to this application.
“The complex array of legal and planning issues that apply to this application will be considered by council in their determination,” the city’s director of planning and development services Paul Needham said.
“Once council has made a determination it will be in a position to provide more information. At this point, all the city can do is encourage interested people to refer to the development application, which is available for viewing on the city’s website and, if they feel so inclined, put in a submission.”