TRADITIONAL Owners will allow developers to buy a parcel of crown land in a deal touted as "crucial" to securing 90 new lots in Epsom.
It could be the start of a major breakthrough in efforts to add new land to YourLand Development's Top Paddock Estate off of Ironstone Road.
Developers are still in the early stages of more negotiations with the government over the sale but a new agreement with Traditional Owners allows each party to progress with discussions over a 1500 square metre water channel reserve.
Under state law, Traditional Owners must agree through negotiation if people want to develop crown land.
Developers want to buy the land so they can keep adding to their 167-lot project, after several years of delays.
They contacted DJAARA - the Aboriginal cooperative that represents Dja Dja Wurrung interests - in September 2020 to see if a deal on the land could be reached.
Under the terms of the newly inked deal, the government would sell the land, and the Dja Dja Wurrung would be compensated with an undisclosed sum, DJAARA executive team manager Jim Brooks said.
"When crown land is sold, Traditional Owner can no longer exercise the rights recognised in that area [of law]," he said.
"It goes some of the way to compensating Traditional Owners for the rights that they have lost."
DJAARA chief executive Rodney Carter said the negotiations with the developers was an example of the way everyone could win under the state legislation.
"The [developers'] constructive approach to work with us is caring and a brilliant example of cooperation to meet community needs, providing greater access to houses and homes at the homelands of the Dja Dja Wurrung People," he said.
It took DJAARA and developers just three weeks to settle on an in-principal agreement, though there was a year-long delay to make sure the final paperwork was correct.
The developers and Dja Dja Wurrung signed the documents on Monday.
The deal is not the first of its type the Dja Dja Wurrung has negotiated with developers but it is part of an increasingly common trend with the wider development industry, Mr Brooks said.
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