Burgmann Takes ANU to Court Over SA8 Boundary Dispute

Students and staff in Burgmann merchandise gather near the fence near the construction site

By Eliza Croft

A legal stoush has emerged between Burgmann College and ANU over the construction of new residential hall SA8. Burgmann is refusing to remove the boundary fencing it erected, which ANU claims is actually on University property.

According to Burgmann Principal Sally Renouf, this afternoon the ACT Supreme Court granted an interlocutory injunction which “prevents the ANU from undertaking any construction works, removing any fixture or chattel, or otherwise disturbing the quiet enjoyment of the sublease registered to Burgmann College”. According to the Canberra Times, this injunction is until 3pm tomorrow, when the matter will be heard again.

Students and staff stand near the fence
Students and staff gathered near the fence to defend it and voice concerns.

The issue came to a head today over a fence erected by Burgmann. According to Renouf, Burgmann placed the fencing in June to “assert our registered sub-lease boundary”. This apparently came after the construction works “encroached onto the College’s subleased area and removed trees”. Unlike most of ANU’s residential halls, Burgmann is not owned by ANU, and therefore subleases its land from the University.

Cars along a fence
The College parked cars along the fence to prevent its removal.

The University requested that Burgmann remove this fence. Burgmann instead parked cars next to the fence to prevent its removal, with Renouf telling Observer this was done “to assert the College’s right to its sub-lease boundary”. Staff and students also gathered near the fence for much of the day to prevent it from being removed while the College sought the injunction.

A University spokesperson told Observer that the fence is on University land which had previously been a Biology Field Station, not Burgmann’s leased land, and is “in breach of [Burgmann’s] lease”. “ANU has asked them to remove [the fence] and any vehicles parked on this land,” the spokesperson said. However, Renouf maintained that the fence was on Burgmann’s leased land, and that “putting up a temporary fence on land…is not a breach of our lease”.

The College has also raised issues with the University’s plans for the SA8 area shown in the Campus Master Plan. In particular, it says that the University’s plan to link Daley Road to Clunies Ross Street would encroach on its land. An ANU spokesperson told Observer that the University has “shared plans for improved landscaping and better access, which would be paid for by ANU”. “We’ll continue to work with Burgmann to ensure campus improvements only have positive impacts on its residents,” the spokesperson said.

The 900-bed SA8 is set to open in 2021. 

Photography by Konstantinos Katsanis.


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