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Coffs Council ordered to pay almost $4.5m by Land and Environment Court

In a decision handed down two days ago in the NSW Land and Environment Court the Coffs Harbour City Council was ordered to pay costs of almost $4.5million to Noubia Pty Ltd.

The case of Noubia Pty Ltd v Coffs Harbour City Council (CHCC) related to the Lakes Estate area of Coffs Harbour in North Boambee Valley. Specifically Lots 94, 96 and 163 of the Lakes Estate which Noubia contended was taken as public land by the CHCC and not reimbursed at a reasonable value taking into account all associated costs.

The Lakes Estate in North Boambee Valley, Coffs Harbour

The competing values contended for the three lots were:

LOT APPLICANT (Noubia) RESPONDENT (CHCC)
Lot 94 $3,256,000 $110,000
Lot 96 $265,000 nil
Lot 163 $560,000 $110,600
TOTAL $4,081,000 $220,600

The decision by Justice Sheehan

Conclusion

  1. The orders finally sought by the Applicant (Noubia) should be made, other than in respect of stamp duty.
  2. The parties agreed that interest would be payable.
  3. As the Applicant has been successful on the vast bulk of its claims it should also have an order for its costs.
  4. The minor dispute about pleadings which became redundant should be capable of agreement between solicitors, or resolution by a costs assessor. “

What does this mean?

As is the case for all unsuccessfully appealed cases decided on in the NSW Land and Environment Court the CHCC would have to pay the amount awarded.

The figure of nearly $4.5m includes interest and legal and other costs.

The Coffs Coast Outlook understands that paying for decisions such as this normally comes out of ratepayer monies in Council finances.

The full court judgement and decision can be found here: https://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au/decision/5d4a1731e4b02a5a800c2e74

9 Comments

  1. Does this figure include the legal fees expended by Council? I wonder how many matters have been before the Land & Environment Court and how much money ratepayers have expended on legal costs? Of course, some matters might be justifiable e.g. the argument over construction of a petrol station on a parcel abutting the Moon Markets, next to a child care centre and opposite a site planned for a community centre (yet to be constructed by Council); but Councils are obligated to spend money prudently and to, at all times, and on all matters, make careful and considered decisions; decisions that do not cause financial harm to the community and to future generations and decisions that unite rather than divide the community. Janne C Lindrum

  2. Apologies – MOONEE MARKETS

  3. Not as smart

    Missed by a country mile with those appraisals hey!

  4. Not as smart

    I was referring to the large discrepancies in the real price and chcc offer

  5. Thank you “Not as Smart” who may be smarter than you would like us to think you are because you brought the
    matter to our attention. Clearly, you are not to be confused with “One of the Investors”!

    So, let’s pose the questions:

    What did the council originally offer?
    Who made the decision to make an offer?
    Who was responsible for the original appraisals?
    What was the original appraisal?
    Did this ultimately become a battle between two expert valuers?
    Were the expert valuers/town planners so far apart it is not funny?
    If the latter, how is it that they were so far apart?

    On the surface, it appears the Council made a wrong decision by not offering sufficient compensation for the land. The judgment suggests that “might” be the case.

    I guess we have to spend a lot of time revisiting history to get to the TRUTH because no one is going to offer the answers on a platter. In the interim, I note the court accepted every one of the applicant’s valuations and awarded costs to the applicant against the council.

    Thus, amongst other things, I will download the case and read the story.
    Janne C Lindrum

  6. Another INCOMPETANT mistake made by CHCC . The timing with this $4.5 million awarded to the developers favour.. This does not look good for CHCC & GM Steve Mcgrath. Especially after the August 8th Council meeting with the Mayor’s Knights casting vote to build the $100 million plus Council Chambers Civic Space. Also with Cr Paul Amos concerns and calling for the experts too come in. Andrew Fraser calling for the Administrators and the vocal MAJORITY of residents & ratepayers not happy with Not being heard or listened too. The ratepayers are not happy Jan!!! ( As in the famous Yellow Page TV Advertsment )

    Regards Max 🙂

  7. I’ve read the Land & Environment Courts decision and it essentially demonstrates that Council did not act fairly in respect of the either the interpretation of land required to be relinquished for “public use” or the valuation/price paid for that land.

    It is one thing for Council to condition that land be set aside in a project for public benefit, but that is private land that has already been paid for and compensation should be provided if ownership of that land passes to the public via Council.

    This treatment is why so many quality developers have complete one project in Coffs Harbour and never return.

    It is also an endemic problem with this Council under the current General Manager, that it acts in a bombastic and controlling manner, rather than seeking cooperative approach. You only seem to get cooperation at the executive level if you are in a select group or pay for the attention.

  8. Spot on, Chris. The judgment is a compelling read. The Council completely misunderstood, deliberately or otherwise, what they were letting themselves into. Further, if one didn’t know any better one might be tempted to
    conclude the Council was being greedy. Janne C Lindrum

  9. Dick McDermott

    And where does this leave the average ratepaying Coffs resident when the council begins to seek debt financing for its CBD folly? Do we pay in reduced services or do we see the General Manager apply for extra ordinary rate rises to finance the deficit? Sure insurance pays in some way for council errors but premiums will rise and after this debacle surely the councillors will see sense and stop progress on the mega million dollar CBD folly.

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