Voluntary House Purchase Scheme

Voluntary House Purchase

The NSW State Government has announced the Resilient Homes Program. This program offers buybacks, house raising, and retrofit of homes impacted by the February 2022 floods.

Whilst Council’s VHP and VHR Schemes remain, Council recommends those impacted by the February 2022 floods and interested in buybacks, house raising or retrofitting register on the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation website.

Scheme plans Express interest FAQs

The Tweed has many flood prone houses. Our current Voluntary House Purchase Scheme was a recommendation of Council’s Floodplain Risk Management Studies completed in 2014 and 2015. The scheme was approved by the NSW Government in 2018.

The scheme aims to permanently remove at-risk people from high flood hazard areas (areas with high flood depths and velocities) by buying their residential houses. The properties are then back-zoned for more flood compatible uses, such as parkland or farming.

The NSW Government has approved voluntary house purchase in the high flood hazard areas of South Murwillumbah, Bray Park, Burringbar and Mooball.

Under the scheme, the price paid for a home (compensation) is determined by an independent valuer with the Department of Planning and Environment paying two-thirds of the price and Council picking up the remainder.

We have identified individual homes for the scheme and will speak with homeowners to see if they are interested in selling.

The scheme will take many years to roll out and relies on funding from the NSW Government (we apply for funding each financial year).

Voluntary House Purchasing Scheme plans

These plans were publicly exhibited and adopted by Council in August 2019:

Express an interest

If you’re interested in the Voluntary House Purchase Scheme, email your property and contact details to tsc@tweed.nsw.gov.au or write to PO Box 816, Murwillumbah NSW 2484.

Frequently asked questions

What is Voluntary House Purchase Scheme?

Voluntary House Purchase Scheme is a flood risk management tool, used when there are no other feasible options for protecting an existing community from severe flooding such as building levees, diverting flood flows or improving evacuation routes and processes.

The main aim of the scheme is to permanently remove at-risk people from high flood hazard areas (areas with high flood depths and velocities) by purchasing their residential houses. The property is then back-zoned for more flood compatible uses, such as recreational parkland or agriculture.

 Removal of buildings from floodways and flow paths may also reduce impacts in other areas and potentially provide more land to carry out flood mitigation works such as channel improvements.

Who pays?

The NSW Government through the Department of Planning and Environment provides grants to Councils under the Floodplain Management Program for Voluntary House Purchase Scheme. Under the scheme, the NSW Government pays two-thirds of the program cost and the remaining one-third is paid for by the Council.

What areas do the scheme cover?

Before the March 2017 flood, we had one existing Voluntary House Purchase Scheme, which applied to dwellings along the Tweed River in parts of River Street at South Murwillumbah. This scheme has been running for many years, with 4 houses remaining within the scheme area.

 After the March 2017 flood, we made an application to the NSW Government in May 2017 to expand the scheme area in the Tweed Valley to include a wider area of South Murwillumbah as well as Bray Park. In the Coastal Creek catchments, a new Voluntary House Purchase Scheme was proposed for Burringbar and Mooball. These areas were identified in the Floodplain Risk Management Plans completed in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Are businesses eligible for the scheme?

No. The scheme only applies to residential land containing an existing dwelling.

I am within a scheme area, is my house eligible?

There are dozens, if not hundreds of houses located in high flood risk areas identified for the scheme. It is not possible to fund removal of all these houses. 

Council, with the NSW Government, has completed a process to prioritise individual properties for voluntary house removal. These have undergone a community consultation process and have been adopted by the elected Council. These are summarised in the relevant Voluntary House Purchase scheme.

Will Council be expanding the scheme because of the February 2022 flood?

We have requested additional funding from the NSW Government to expand and accelerate the Voluntary House Purchase Scheme in light of the recent record flooding.

Homes in additional areas, such as at Condong, Tumbulgum and Chinderah will be considered in a future stage of the scheme, along with measures to try and assist those in high risk caravan parks and house raising options.

We await a response and will inform those who have expressed interest of the outcome as soon as possible.

Read the media release for more information.

What are the timeframes?

Voluntary house purchase is a long-term scheme. It may run, at varying speed, for many years depending on community demand and funding availability.

How is compensation determined?

The purchase of Voluntary House Purchase Scheme properties is based on a fair market price. This is determined by an independent property valuer. Under the government guidelines, when determining the market price, the valuer must assume that no Voluntary House Purchase Scheme exists.

The valuation process places no obligation on the homeowner to participate in the scheme.

Government funding cannot go above the maximum market valuation.

What happens to the buildings?

Once purchased, Council will arrange for the house and other structures to be demolished or relocated through a public tender process.

What if I am outside of the scheme areas but was badly impacted by the March 2017 or February 2022 flood?

We review our Voluntary House Purchase Scheme regularly, particularly following major floods.

You can still submit and expression of interest if you are not included in the current scheme. This will ensure you are considered for inclusion in any future expansion of the scheme.

The schemes is likely to take many years to implement. We will continue to update our flood studies and risk management plans and will consider adding other areas outside of those nominated, such as Condong, Tumbulgum and the hinterland villages. This would require agreement from the NSW Government. The areas identified to date are considered the highest priority for the scheme at this time.

What happens if I say ‘no’?

Participation in the scheme is entirely voluntary.

Should you change your mind in later years due to personal circumstances or further flood events, your property can be reassessed against the prioritised list of properties for available funding.

However, areas that are nominated for the Voluntary House Purchase Scheme in particular, being high hazard flood areas, are likely to be more difficult to redevelop in the future, will attract stricter development controls and may be back-zoned along with properties that do participate in the scheme. This occurred previously in parts of South Murwillumbah.

How do I apply?

There is no application process as Council identifies the priority list for the Voluntary House Purchase Scheme and will contact homeowners directly to gauge interest in participating.

However, if you would like to lodge an expression of interest, email Council at tsc@tweed.nsw.gov.au or write to PO Box 816, Murwillumbah NSW 2484. Please include your property and contact details.

How do I find out more?

Guidelines for Voluntary House Purchase Scheme are available from the Department of Planning and Environment’s website.

Please email us at tsc@tweed.nsw.gov.au for more details.