Dept ordered to consider NSL lease application

National, Normal

The National, Friday, June 3rd 2011

THE Waigani National Court on Wednesday ordered the lands minister and lands department to consider an application by Nambawan Super Ltd to renew a Urban Development Lease (UDL) on a portion of land described as Portion 1539, Milinch Granville, Port Moresby.
The land was previously leased in 1998 to plaintiff, Nambawan Super in 1998 which intended to develop the land in stages to construct high covenant dwellings.
Within a year of the granting of the lease, Nambawan Super engaged consultants to prepare development concept designs and project design documentation.
The following year, Nambawan Super fenced the property and engaged consultants for further project cost studies. It spent more than K1.275 million on the work.
In October 2000, the then lands minister Sir Puka Temu directed the plaintiff to cease all work.
This was followed by a number of statutory and administrative changes to the superannuation industry in general, and to the plaintiff in particular.
In February 2003, the UDL expired. Despite the expiry, Nambawan Super continued paying annual land rentals through to 2009.
However, in 2005, National Capital District Commission (NCDC) proposed a local development plan, which included rezoning of the land as “environment protection”.
In June 2005, the chief physical planner prepared a proposed subdivision zone plan to divide the land into three portions.
On Nov 21, 2007, Nambawan Super applied to the lands minister for renewal of the UDL but did not receive any response.
It continued to pay the annual land rental.
In May 2008, the NCDC gazetted final approval of the Port Moresby Town Local Development Plan and changed the zoning of the land from residential to environment protection/ conservation.
In August 2009, invitations to tender for the three subdivided portions of the land were called for and Nambawan Super submitted its tender, with others, for each of the portions.
But it withdrew its tender before the land board met to decide who the tender should go to.
On Sept 23, 2009, the NCDC gave written notice to the defendants that the invitation and consideration of tenders for the grant of UDLs were unlawful and should be not be dealt with.
Nambwan Super’s lawyers wrote to the lands minister and other defendants of its entitlement to the land and the alleged unlawful conduct of the defendants.
Because there was no response from the lands minister and the other defendants, Nambawan Super commenced proceedings.
At the time, the defendants awarded the UDL to another company.
Nambawan Super went to court to review the decision of the lands minister and other defendants to award the UDL to another company.
After lengthy proceedings, acting judge, Justice Royale Thompson was satisfied with Nambawan Super’s submissions and ruled in its favour.
She ordered that the decision by the defendants to subdivide the land and the decision to invite tenders in a published gazette no.G158 be quashed.
She also ordered the declaration by the defendants to zone the land as “environment protection” be refused.