Tuesday 5 February, 2008, 7pm at the Suffolk Park Community Hall.

Meeting commenced at 7.10pm.

The President outlined a possible plan for the future of the Caravan Park,
emphasising the need for a clear vision and plan with which to present to Council in order for the re-classification from Community Title to Operational NOT to take place. The SPPA Executive suggests if Gaggin Park could be used for affordable housing, and the holiday camping terminated at the Caravan park, more space would be available for community use of the current Caravan Park site, for uses such as community gardens, outdoor recreation,  nursery, etc. as well as several permanent residents.
The vision did not receive the support of the meeting on the following objections:

  • Current residents are unwilling to relocate, especially to swap homes for units.
  •  The Caravan Park has been used by generations of holidaymakers who return each year.
  • Council would be unwilling to lose the current income from the Park.
  • The upcoming LEP process (September exhibition period with finalisation due April 09) is sufficient for community consultation without an SPPA plan.
  • Concern that “handing over” Gaggin Park could mean an overall loss of community space.
  • The current holiday park is affordable holiday accommodation for tourists.

There was a general sentiment to “keep it community title at all costs”.
The Mayor, Jan Barham, who joined the meeting at 8pm, advised that due to changes in laws, to operate the current caravan park on community title land was not legal but did not provide any details.
She also suggested there may be a way to rezone it operational in the LEP with a proviso for community use;  however, this is not known to be solid legally in terms of keeping it for the community use as George Suffolk had intended it in his bequeathing of the land.

Questions were raised as to whether there could be other recourses, e.g. via the proposed Heritage Listing, or via National Parks and Wildlife, to keep it as community land.

Also suggested was the possible division of the land into multiple usage, i.e. affordable housing, community use, commercial.

The questions of affordable housing was debated;  some argue that there is no precedent in the Shire for affordable housing and that is unlikely to happen, therefore retaining the Caravan Park for that purpose was advisable; others feel there is a new push by Federal/State/local governments to create affordable housing; the Mayor indicated her support for affordable housing on the site.

As the wording and amount of the initial handover to council is open to interpretation (sale or donation), Jan Barham suggested contacting the Environment Defenders Office in Lismore (Sue Higginson) for free advice on our position. Member confirmed that the SPPA has a copy of the handover document, and reminded the meeting that in 2003 legal advice was sought and found to be in favour of Community Title, even though there was a small monetary exchange with council in the handover.

A Working Group was re-formed to look into the questions raised, and to come up with a list of questions and options.

The meeting concluded at 8.40pm.