What price for a man's castle? 

Residents whose homes would be re-zoned as public space under a new planning proposal could ask the council to buy their homes immediately in certain circumstances.

The residents of 26 homes near Joseph Frank Park in Blacktown were distressed to learn their properties had been zoned as public recreation space in the council’s Draft Local Environmental Plan.

Greenwood Grove resident Henry Ng said he felt powerless when he saw the plans.

‘‘Like I had no options, a feeling of helplessness,’’ he said.

The only advice Mr Ng had been given, he said, was that the council would buy his home ‘‘sometime in the next 25 years’’.

But Liesel Spencer, an associate lecturer in law at the University of Western Sydney, said the residents did have options if they could prove hardship as a result of the plans.

Their rights were legislated in the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991, she said.

‘‘In certain circumstances of hardship, if there is any delay in the acquisition of the land, this Act compels the authority, in this case Blacktown Council, to acquire the land,’’ she said.

Ms Spencer said hardship could be deemed if an owner was unable to sell their land at market value because of the public space zoning.

Property owners could also claim hardship if they needed to sell immediately because of ‘‘personal, domestic or social reasons’’ or ‘‘in order to avoid loss of the owner’s income’’.

Despite the residents’ concerns, mayor Len Robinson said no property owner would be left out of pocket by the rezoning. 

He said it was common place for the council to buy private property for future public use and owners should always be financially better off because of the acquisition.

■Up to 847 homes may be bought by Blacktown Council over the next 25 years;

■ 448 of those acquisitions are new proposals of the draft LEP 2013;

■399 homes remain to be bought by the council for public space as planned in the 1988 LEP. 

■All of those homes, except for three, are within the proposed Urban Renewal Precincts of Blacktown, Mount Druitt, Rooty Hill and Seven Hills.

■Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 states residents can be paid for disturbance, legal costs, valuation fees, financial costs reasonably incurred, stamp duty, some mortgage fees, solatium up to $25, 020.

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