Administrator implores the community to get the facts around asset sales

Central Coast Council Administrator, Rik Hart

Central Coast Council is reminding the community to have their say on the next stage of the asset sales program, Tranche 3, which closes for consultation at 5pm on Friday, May 28.

The consultation forms part of Council’s businessa recovery plan which required a review of property assets that could be sold to assist with the current financial situation.

Administrator, Rik Hart, said that to date there had been more than 800 responses from the community, along with spreading of misinformation.

“There has been a lot of concerns raised from the community based on hearsay, which are completely inaccurate and creating unnecessary distress,” Hart said.

“It must be stressed that Council is only considering selling one percent of its property portfolio, and of what is listed for potential sale, there are only 13 open space areas listed to be rezoned before sale, which are all in close proximity to other open space areas.

“I implore the community to get the facts and take the time to read the frequently asked questions and the interactive map, which provides specific details for individual parcels, such conditions of sale to allow for continued public parking.

“It is also important to note that only parcels classified as operational land and zoned for the correct purpose of sale, will initially go back to Council for endorsement to sell, and these can be identified as the blue pins on the online interactive map.

“Other properties that need to be rezoned or reclassified prior to sale require an in-depth, lengthy process that can take up to 18 months and include further chances for the community to have their say.

“I want to emphasise the significant liquidity issue that Council is facing, which needs to be resolved as quickly as possible in order for community infrastructure to be maintained and community services to continue.

“The sale of assets, along with the 15 percent rate rise, are crucial components of our business recovery plan, which was adopted by the last Council sitting, and will allow us to deliver much needed capital to improve Council’s financial position and provide assurance to our lenders.

“This urgent need for income may override historic strategic direction, with potential for the community better realised by the private sector.

“Any parcels sold will not only provide economic return from the sale of land, but also provide opportunity to raise income from future rates as well as realise savings from maintenance costs and loss of depreciation of assets.

“Properties are either being sold through a competitive sales and marketing campaign to ensure the best sale price, or in the case of direct sales with a proposed buyer, properties are sold at no less than the market value determined by an independent valuer.

“I encourage the community to inform themselves and if you are still concerned over any land that is earmarked for potential sale or have ideas about how the land could be better utilised, make sure to have your say,” Hart said.

He said Bateau Bay Library would remain open at its current location until an improved service was relocated within the shopping centre, where it will continue to be managed and operated by Council.

“Norah Head Community Centre reached its end of use in early 2020, given the level of termite damage causing the building to be structurally unsafe and beyond repair.

“Before Covid hit, the building was vastly under used, receiving only 10 percent of bookings against available hours.

“Wyong Racecourse sale would provide better economic use of the land, without the golf course, holes or greens being reduced.

“With the building of a new horse stable complex, which is where the golf course tenants will reside, the development of this new complex will result in additional economic and social benefits, including $5M-$7M in economic activity, and approximately 50 direct and indirect jobs.

“The Race club is aware that there is a State Environmental Planning Policy Coastal Wetland and is committed to managing and not encroaching on the land.

“Any land sale price will be determined by an independent valuer.

“The sale will be negotiated by an independent real estate agent acting on Council’s behalf.

“No valuations will be provided to the community prior to the sale as this is commercial-in-confidence information.

“While Council will not publicise the sale price achieved on any one sale, this information is freely available to the public, similar to any other land sale.

“Any land that was purchased using restricted funds will require that money be returned to that fund.

“Council’s car parking strategy has assessed the current and future needs of parking for various town centres and this has been developed by undertaking various studies and analyses of usage and predicted growth.

“Only parcels classified as operational land and zoned for the correct purpose of sale, will initially go back to Council for endorsement to sell.

“Since the adoption of the Local Government Act 1993, Council is required to classify all “public land” as either ‘community’ or ‘operational’, which impacts on how the land is used, managed, the community’s role in its use as well as affecting ongoing maintenance costs and if it can be leased or sold.

“Classification determines the ease or difficulty with which land may be sold, leased or licensed.

“Community land must not be sold (except in the limited circumstances referred to in section 45(4) of the Local Government Act 1993), must not be leased or licensed for more than 21 years and may only be leased or licensed for more than five years if public notice of the proposed lease or licence is given.

“No such restrictions apply to operational land.

“Land automatically becomes ‘community’ land if it is not otherwise classified within three months of being acquired by Council.

“As such there are still some parcels of land that have been incorrectly classified or are now outdated and need to be changed in order to put the land to better use.

“Changing the classification of ‘community’ land to ‘operational’ land is an in-depth process that can take up to 18 months and includes formal exhibition, providing another opportunity for the community to have their say, followed by a public hearing with an independent facilitator.

“The NSW Governor’s approval is also required when a reclassification proposal seeks to remove public reserve status and/or the discharge of any identified interests.”

For more information, or to submit feedback, go online to yourvoiceourcoast.com/asp

Source:
Media release, May 24
Central Coast Council

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