In the Case of Landlocked Lots

In the Case of Landlocked Lots

The Challenge:

A client wished to purchase land adjacent to a National Park and gift it to the people of NSW. The land had no obvious legal access with physical access posing difficulty. 

In NSW, all land parcels are required to have access to a public road. Whilst this is ideal, circumstances can arise where parcels become “landlocked”. This often isn’t an issue as long as the title holder also owns adjoining land that is connected to a public road. 

Unfortunately access to the site via the National Park isn’t available due to steep and difficult terrain in the park. The best physical access is via private lands adjoining the site.

Hanlons were asked to investigate the extent of legal access to the land parcel. If there was no legal access available, we were then to make recommendations to gain legal access, nominally over existing access tracks.

The Solution:

This type of work is mostly investigative. We search and review all adjoining land titles as well as the original crown grant Portion Plans and subsequent Subdivision Plans. We determine if a Crown Road shown in the Crown Plan created with the first grant still exists and if the physical track or road is within its confines.

These roads are 100 links wide i.e. a cricket pitch length or 20.117m.  The surveyors often followed existing bridle paths. Often the physical track does not sit within the Crown Road. The old surveyors didn’t anticipate motor vehicles or knew that new tracks would one day be made by contractors with a D6 Cat bulldozer. These new tracks went where the dozer went and where a motor vehicle could drive. Consequent wash-outs and land slips often caused the new tracks to move over time. These are the tracks that appear on Google Maps.

Some titles may already have an Easement for Access. These aren’t shown on a Portion Plan or Subdivision Plans. If there is a plan, it is attached to the title as a sketch. Hence why we download titles and check for easements.

Once we know what legal access is available, we investigate how the land is physically accessed. Is there a driveable track to the site? Can it be accessed only on foot? Do we need to construct a new track?  Is the existing track an all-weather one or only accessible during the summer months? Talking to the land owner or farm manager is the best source of information. If they know you’re there to help them then they’ll go out of their way to help you. We try to be as transparent as possible. 

The client and the neighbour may already have a good relationship. They may already have negotiated agreement terms for an Access Easement. Conversely they may not know each other or have some long-held gripe that needs to be addressed. We prefer to avoid court-ordered easements under s88K of the Conveyancing Act. They promote bad-blood and add significant cost. 

We often find ourselves as the intermediary between the client, the neighbour, valuers and solicitors. As one of the key tenets of project management, we tell our young surveyors they need to listen to all stakeholders and treat them with respect.

For the National Park project, the end result was a concept plan showing the proposed Right of Carriageway Over Track in Use (Approximate Position). We used aerial imagery to determine the track location and drafted a plan to NSW Land Registry Services standards. This type of easement has the advantage of being ambulatory. It is a legal term that means the legal right to use the track moves with the track. No more blockages from washouts or fallen trees. 

If you have a land-locked block of land, we at Hanlons have the expertise to help you gain legal access.

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Mitchel Hanlon Consulting Pty Ltd ABN 51 104 693 736