In 2014, Michael Golding handed over his deposit to buy land in Hobart’s Eastern Shore suburb of Howrah — or so he thought.
- Michael Golding says checks by conveyancers failed to pick up his property was in Rokeby, not Howrah
- He was told the area would soon be made into a new suburb
- Clarence Mayor says people would buy in the area regardless which suburb it was
Months later, he received a phone call from the bank, telling him the land he had bought was actually in the next suburb over — Rokeby — where the median price for a three-bedroom home is more than $200,000 lower.
By then, with the deposit paid and the $30,000 first home builders’ boost about to drop down to $20,000, Mr Golding felt it was too late to back out.
The land had been advertised as being in Howrah, and Mr Golding said checks by conveyancers and on Tasmania’s List Map system failed to pick up that the real location was Rokeby.
“We felt really cheated, and angry, but also powerless because we’d invested six months of planning and choosing and designing and saving,” he said.
When Mr Golding called the builders to ask what had happened, he was told not to worry because the area would soon be made into a new suburb, similar to Oakdowns on the other side of Rokeby.
Now, Mr Golding’s anger has increased, with the revelation undeveloped Rokeby land across the highway is about to become part of Howrah, with the Nomenclature Board — which is the custodian of official placenames — agreeing to a boundary adjustment.
The Clarence City Council agreed to the adjustment after being approached by the developers of the land — the Archdiocese of Hobart, Malwood Pty Ltd — linked to Liberal Party President Rod Scurrah, and Tranmere Point Pty Ltd.
An initial motion put forward by a former Liberal staffer, Alderman Brendan Blomley, to consider creating a new suburb of Howrah Gardens to include the undeveloped Rokeby land was not supported by the Nomenclature Board, with the board saying it would instead consider a minor boundary adjustment.
Clarence Mayor Doug Chipman, a former Liberal Party state president, said the council agreed to the change to “tidy up” the area.
“There’s a lot of new development out there, and unless a decision was made some of the new streets would end up having houses in both suburban areas and that didn’t make sense,” Mr Chipman said.
When asked whether the change was about boosting the profits of developers, Mr Chipman said he believed people would buy in that area regardless of whether it was in Howrah or Rokeby.
“It’s a beautiful spot, there’ll be very nice houses there, so I don’t think it’s going to be an important consideration in the minds of people who buy,” he said.
Mr Blomley was contacted for comment.
Real Estate Institute of Tasmania president Mandy Welling said the change could increase the prices the developers would secure for the land, but that it would be up to the market to determine how much.
“I think that it would be a great initiative for that to happen for the land developers, because there would certainly be the potential there for the prices to be increased,” she said.
But Clarence Alderman Richard James said it was not fair to change the boundary only on one side of the highway.
“It’s discriminating against people by having an arbitrary line on one side of the highway,” he said.
“If you’re going to be fair to all, then you need to be able to consider both areas and draw the line accordingly for both sides of the South Arm Highway to be of an advantage.”
The council’s online survey showed residents were divided over the boundary adjustment, with 60 per cent of respondents opposed to the change.
Legislation currently before Tasmania’s Upper House would introduce penalties for the misrepresentation of place names.
The intention to change the boundary will be open for public consultation for a month.
The Nomenclature Board will then consider the feedback before making a recommendation to the minister.