Public Works Act

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Compulsory acquisition of land

The Public Works Act enables the Crown and local authorities to acquire land for public infrastructure and services and its use by these entities is becoming increasingly common. With New Zealand's population continuing to grow, there is strong demand for new public infrastructure and services, including roads, airports, railways, public transport, electricity and other network infrastructure. All these essential public works require interests in land and the Public Works Act is the key tool to deliver those rights.

Our team of highly experienced Public Works Act experts advise a range of public and private sector clients on Public Works Act processes and issues. Our experience includes assisting with strategic advice on project development and the acquisition process, compensation assessments, negotiating the terms of acquisitions, through to litigation on acquisition and compensation issues in the Environment Court and superior Courts.

We also have extensive experience advising on the Public Works Act requirements for the offer back of land. This includes providing strategic advice on offer back obligations and advocacy where offer back claims have been initiated in the Courts.

We are also experts in the designation process under the Resource Management Act 1991 that usually precedes, or runs in tandem with, Public Works Act acquisitions. This allows us to provide strategic advice across the spectrum of approvals and property rights required for public works, with a clear focus on the ultimate outcome required. 

Our team works across both sides of the Public Works Act divide – we act for requiring authorities developing public infrastructure as well as affected landowners. This means we know the issues that may arise on both sides and how they can be effectively and efficiently resolved.

Our experience includes:

  • Advising a range of roading and water/wastewater providers across the country on obtaining designations for their infrastructure and the associated acquisitions of land and other interests under the Public Works Act. 
  • Advising Tasman District Council in relation to the Waimea Community Dam, including defending objections to the acquisition of land under the Public Works Act.
  • Acting for Auckland International Airport before the High Court and Court of Appeal in successfully defending claims in relation to Public Works Act offer back requirements.
  • Advising Panuku Development Auckland regarding the use of designations and Public Works Act powers to facilitate urban renewal in Auckland.
  • Advising Vector Gas in relation to Public Works Act issues for the Maui and Kapuni gas transmission pipelines.
  • Acting for multiple landowners in relation to the acquisition of their land for the Auckland Waterview Tunnel project, including in compensation claims before the Land Valuation Tribunal.
  • Acting for multiple landowners in relation to the acquisition of their land for the Auckland City Rail Link Project, including acting for Precinct Properties in relation to its Commercial Bay Project and its integration with the City Rail Link.
  • Acting for Stevenson Group in relation to the proposed acquisition of part of its concrete Takanini batching plant for the Southern Corridor Improvements project.
  • Acting for Fonterra in relation to the compulsory acquisition of land and its Hautapu site for the Waikato Expressway.
  • Advising Turners & Growers, Ports of Auckland and Fonterra Brands on the proposed acquisition of their land in Mt Wellington/Onehunga for the proposed East West Link.
  • Advising Scentre (New Zealand) regarding the acquisition of its land and other interests for the Newmarket Viaduct improvements.
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