Court disposal still at early stage

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The Oamaru courthouse is still at the first stage of Land Information New Zealand’s disposal process.

The courthouse, a category one listed building, was closed in 2012 because of earthquake risk and was transferred to Land Information New Zealand (Linz) in June 2013, after the Ministry of Justice decided the cost of strengthening the building would be too expensive to justify.

Linz announced in September it was at stage one of the disposal process determining whether courthouse land would be needed for any other public works.

Linz Crown Property acting group manager John Hook said the disposal process was still at this stage and no timeframes could be provided.

Any disposal of land must meet a number of statutory and government policy requirements, such as the Public Works Act 1981, he said.

Linz ensures the actions are carried out according to statutory and other requirements.

“These steps ensure that the interests or legal rights that parties – such as other government agencies, former owners or iwi – may have in the land being disposed of are appropriately addressed.”

Linz also signed the sale and purchase agreements for these types of disposals on behalf of the Crown, Mr Hook said.

Stage one involves liaising with Crown agencies, other government departments and local councils to determine whether they require the land for any public work purpose.

Oamaru has been running court hearings from a new temporary facility on Humber St since August, following two years of hearings at the Oamaru Opera House after the old courthouse was closed.

Steps for disposing of land (in order):
Determine if the land is needed for any other public works.
Determine if the land needs to be offered back to the person the Crown originally purchased it from, or their successors.
Offer the land to Maori under a Treaty claim settlement or, possibly, hold the land for a future settlement.
Sell the land on the open market, generally by public tender or listing with a real estate agent.

Disposals might not involve all steps, as land could be disposed of at any stage.

By Ruby Harfield