Council to investigate land title claim for community land near Jetty Foreshore

Coffs Council is investigating a possible land rights claim over this unoccupied parcel of land near the Jetty Foreshore precinct. Photo: Emma Darbin.


THE possibility of issuing a land rights claim over State Government owned Crown Land east of Coffs Harbour Railway Station and north of the Jetty Foreshore precinct is being investigated by Coffs Harbour City Council.

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Cr Paul Amos moved the motion to investigate whether Council had any ‘claim potential’ in regards to the area, at Council’s ordinary meeting on Thursday 27 August.

Cr Amos called on Council to use the law of ‘adverse possession’ in order to justify the claim.

“Adverse possession is a legal avenue that at the moment is changing lots of titles around Australia, and we have in my eyes potentially a real claim here,” Cr Amos stressed at the recent meeting.

“With adverse possession we have to demonstrate that the area has been sitting around neglected for around 30 years.

“In my mind that has happened.”

Cr Amos called for Council to seek legal clarification on the matter.

“It’s just about seeing what ground we are standing on at the moment,” he said.

“In my mind we have a really justifiable claim.”

Cr Amos said under ‘adverse possession’ the land must not be dedicated for a public purpose under any Act.
“I do not think that that has happened to that block of land,” he said.

“For as long as I can remember that land has sat down there and has been used by the community.”

Cr Amos said the area had in the past been used for parking, concerts and markets.

“It has been sitting there for anyone and everyone to use,” he said.

“We have a history of using and looking after that area, over and above State Rail.

“Pick a team, the State Government or the community of Coffs Harbour.”

Kim Towner who runs the Harbourside Markets at the harbour foreshore every Sunday urged councillors to keep as much of the Jetty Foreshore area for residents to enjoy today and for future generations.

“My favourite thing about the area is that it always feels like everyone belongs; all generations, all abilities, all cultures, all demographics are there,” Mr Towner said.

“This is the area we come to play, relax, reflect, refresh, enjoy the area, the sea, the sky.

“I feel that we as Coffs Coast residents totally feel the ownership of this area, we share it well and on the whole look after it.”

Cr Tegan Swan raised concern over the issue “potentially making a battle” between Council and the State Government, and called on Council and the State Government to work together on the issue.

Cr John Arkan also raised concern over the long term occupation of Indigenous families that currently reside on the land, and Council’s General Manager Steve McGrath stated he believed there was currently an Aboriginal land rights claim ongoing in the area.

Despite these concerns, Council voted to go ahead with seeking legal opinion as to if Adverse Occupier title may apply to the unoccupied lands east of the railway line and north of Marina Drive at Coffs Harbour Jetty Foreshores, and for Council to seek clarification on whether any of the subject land has previously been ‘dedicated under any act for a public purpose’.

Any resulting claim will be on behalf of the community of Coffs Harbour.


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