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Sporting Clubs and Government Land



With Melbourne suffering its usual footy fever, Kellehers turns to sporting clubs.

Community sporting clubs rely heavily on support from the government and the broader community. They often occur on government land under a lease either to the club directly or to a local council, a function of which is to provide ‘services and facilities for the local community’. With rising land values and increasing demand for government infrastructure and projects, operators of sporting clubs should be cognisant of the possibility that governments may wish to sell valuable land which is home to a club.

The Victorian Government Landholding Policy and Guidelines is an important and useful document. Whilst having no apparently enforceable legal effect, they are an important government protocol generally followed by Ministers and government decision-makers. They seek to ensure transparency in government land sales.

When deciding to sell land, the government agency or Minister will declare land ‘surplus to agency requirements’ and follow the process set out in para 2(c) of the Policy. The process requires it to provide 60 days notice of its intention to sell the land and circulate this notice to all Victorian and relevant local and Commonwealth government agencies. Other government agencies are given a ‘first right of refusal’.

Once land is determined surplus to requirements, or the government agency decides to sell it to a different agency, the government then must generally ensure that appropriate new planning controls are in place for the private use and development of the land. This usually takes the form of a rezoning via a Planning Scheme Amendment. The Government Land Standing Advisory Committee, appointed under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (Vic) s151, will usually be asked to advise the Minister for Planning on such a proposed change to planning controls. There is opportunity for public input at this stage, and opposition to necessary planning control changes may stop a proposed project in its tracks. The Committee’s recommendation is non-binding. However, comment to the Advisory Committee is severely restricted by whatever Terms of Reference are specified for it. This Advisory Committee is not a formal Planning Panels process and is quite unlike VCAT.

Freeman Zhong

28 September 2017

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