General News

6 October, 2022

TRC forging ahead with park sell-off

TABLELANDS Regional Council is forging ahead with plans to sell off a suburban park and turn it into medium-density housing.

By Robyn Holmes

TRC forging ahead with park sell-off - feature photo

Council is investigating the disposal of the park, bordered by Pink Street and Maunds Road, despite the protestations of residents, some of whom have lived there for 50 years.

At its recent meeting, council agreed to start the process to assess whether the land can be rezoned to Medium Density Residential before trying to sell it off the land to a developer or enter into a joint venture with a developer.

Cr David Clifton, who initiated the idea, said he wanted the process done as quickly as possible and asked CEO Gary Rinehart to explain why council could not go straight to the market and put out an Expression of Interest (EOI) to purchase the land.

“I’ve been very enthusiastic about this and my pace reflects my enthusiasm, given the desperate state of housing need we have in this area,” he said.

“I agree Councillor, whether this is the most suitable site, that’s still to be assessed,” Mr Rinehart said.

“We’re seeking to do all we can to get some medium-density housing happening in the area.

“Unfortunately with that zoning of the land, we can’t make it a fast bus process, if you like, to go at the speed that we do appreciate you would like to achieve.”

Mr Rinehart said to go straight to the EOI process without first rezoning the land could create uncertainty for developers and was unlikely to generate a lot of interest while the current zoning was in place.

“Our proposal is that we assess the suitability for the re-zoning and establish that – that would be the time to consider the disposal of the land which could include an expression of interest which is only a mechanism to dispose of the land or dispose of part of the interest in the land if we want to consider a joint venture once we understand the suitability of it,” he said.

“Under the provisions, we are allowed to have joint ventures – we have the power to enter into those type of commercial arrangements. It is used quite sparingly in local government but it remains an option.

“We didn’t go into details at this early stage, let’s see if it is suitable for rezoning and then consider all disposal options including a joint venture or expression of interest.”

Pink Street resident Antonia Peluchetti, who has lived there for 50 years, and her daughter, Rena Ceola, have been active since they found about the proposal to sell off the land, organising a petition through in a desperate bid for the park to be retained.

Her neighbour, Christie Trowers, has written to councillors to express her concerns about the park sell-off, and while she acknowledged there was a housing crisis, she did not accept this was the solution.

“I agree there is a problem, however I do not agree that this small piece of land is even part of the solution. What I see here is an opportunity to cash in on a gifted piece of land, with little care about the residents living in this area,” she wrote.

She also questioned how councillors could assume there was little use of the park at the moment.

“How does Cr Clifton, or any of the members of council, know what the usage of the park is? Granted, now that the small amount of playground equipment has been removed it’s bound to be less,” Ms Trowers wrote.

“Has there been a study on this? Have any of the councillors visited the park on a regular basis to come to this conclusion?

“I live across the road from this park and have often seen kids swinging, and playing, people enjoying a picnic at the bench and dogs being exercised.”

Ms Trowers described the move to sell off the park to accommodate more housing “short-sighted”.

“This proposal is so short sighted and will ruin the entrance to Atherton from Yungaburra. Why not make this entrance to Atherton, the business centre of the Tablelands, one that screams proud to be an Athertonion and welcome to our town,” she wrote.

“There are several other places where the housing crisis could be solved, for instance the old primary school site.

“But first we need services and infrastructure to accommodate and plan ahead for this. This is a short-term fix, no better than a band aid, and will leave a similar looking blight on our town.”

If the council chooses to go ahead with the rezoning, there will be a public notification period which will allow residents to send in objections to the proposal.


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