THE Office of Strategic Lands effectively fulfils most aspects of its defined role, according to a report released last week by the Acting Auditor-General of New South Wales, Ian Goodwin.
However, it could do more to support strategic land planning by identifying and acquiring land for future public use proactively rather than waiting for agencies or landholders to approach it. It may also have greater impact if it expanded its activities beyond greater Sydney.
The audit assessed whether the Office of Strategic Lands effectively fulfils its role to identify, acquire, manage and dispose of land, and whether it is sustainable over the long-term to meet its objectives.
"New South Wales government agencies we spoke with consider the Office of Strategic Lands to fulfil an important role as a self-funding long-term land holder and manager. However, it is not used as extensively as it could be," Mr Goodwin said.
"It has the potential to play a much bigger role in assisting New South Wales Government agencies with longer term planning by partnering with them to identify, acquire, hold and manage land for future needs."
While the Office of Strategic Lands is diligent in its financial management over the short and medium terms, it has identified that relying on the sale of surplus land to continue funding its ongoing operations is not sustainable, but is yet to finalise a strategy to address this, according to the report.
The Office of Strategic Lands expects to finalise and implement a Strategic Business Plan to guide its future direction and long-term sustainability in late 2017.
The creation of its own business strategy is an opportunity to clarify its long-term business direction, and set clear and relevant goals and performance measures to support its unique role in longer-term land planning. This strategy should be supported by business and financial models, to ensure it is operationally and financially sustainable for the long term.
The Office of Strategic Lands is a Corporation Sole acting on behalf of the Minister for Planning to identify, acquire, manage and divest land required for long-term planning purposes by the New South Wales government. It is run within the Department of Planning and Environment, and it currently operates only within the greater Sydney region.