Council making moves to buy caravan park site

April 17, 2018

Greater Shepparton City Council will tonight vote on whether to buy Victoria Lake Caravan Park.

The City of Greater Shepparton could soon own Victoria Lake Caravan Park, with council making moves to buy the site.

Greater Shepparton City Council is recommending councillors tonight vote to pull the trigger to buy the site, valued five years ago at about $600000.

A background report said the site needed significant money spent on it for it to become a four-star caravan park to support its soon-to-be neighbour — the new Shepparton Art Museum.

If bought, the council would look into finding a long-term leaseholder to operate the park, with the hope they could spend a substantial amount on infrastructure at the park.

The proposal comes after council had tried to secure a long-term leaseholder, but struggled, with little interest shown.

Council attributed this to a long-term lease arrangement on the land capped at about 20 years.

The council had expressed interest in a 40-year lease arrangement for the site, but had been rebuffed.

‘‘Council has tried to get approval to lease the caravan park for greater than 21 years, but this has failed,’’ a background report read.

‘‘Council has now decided to look at purchasing the caravan park from the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning.

‘‘If this were to be successful, council could consider the long-term options for the park, including offering a long-term lease to a party to operate the park and spend a substantial amount of money on infrastructure at the park,’’ the report continued.

Officers have recommended councillors vote to notify DELWP of the council’s intention to buy the park and publicly advertise for a long-term management contract for a five-year period, starting next year.

According to council, the process could take up to five years to complete and would require council to enter into a management contract for that period.

It would also mean council needed to budget for the sale.

While the asset was valued at $600000 about five years ago, it is not known if the estimation factored in a ‘‘public use’’ restriction that would be applied to the land.

The report details when land is sold to a council, it has the option of buying land for public purposes, which restricts land use for public use, which could substantially reduce the price.

‘‘Council has had initial discussions with DELWP regarding this option and DELWP is more than supportive of this option,’’ the report said.

If the sale goes through, the council would start to budget for it in about five years’ time, but would depend on how much DELWP valued the land at.

Council officers are confident ‘‘appropriate consultation’’ has been done on the matter and was ready for a council decision.

Last month, a $337000 lump-sum contract was awarded to Australian Tourist Park Management for management services at the caravan park for another year.

Mayor Kim O’Keeffe said the extension was buying some time while long-term decisions were made.

She had argued the site was in need of improvement and investment to be able to do that, but said the council did not immediately have space in its budget to oversee the works needed.

Chief executive Peter Harriott last year said the market had told the council a 21-year lease was insufficient and a 40-year lease was desired.

Cr O’Keeffe had previously described the capped lease arrangement for the site as ‘‘a roadblock’’.

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