Councillor concerned "city-wide asset could go"

Shellharbour Councillor Peter Moran is concerned Benson's Basin could potentially be packaged in the sale of Lamerton House. Picture Albey Bond

Shellharbour Councillor Peter Moran is concerned Benson's Basin could potentially be packaged in the sale of Lamerton House. Picture Albey Bond

SHELLHARBOUR City councillor Peter Moran has expressed concern that community land could be sold in effort to fund the Shellharbour City Hub project.

Earlier this week an extraordinary meeting was held in closed council to discuss an agreement between Shellharbour City Council and Stockland for the sale of Lamerton House.

The meeting was called to provide  information on the agreement to councillors. Money from the sale of Lamerton House sale will join proceeds of the sale of four other council assets to fund the proposed City Hub development. 

Cr Moran said it was a “bad deal” as the sale of Lamerton House should go to open tender to get the best market price. 

“Four of the seven councillors came out better informed that we were beforehand,” Cr Moran said. 

However Cr Moran said he held concerns that nearby land, Benson’s Basin could potentially be packaged in with the sale of Lamerton House to drive up the sale price. 

Cr Moran said the land was classified as “operational land” just two weeks ago and he was concerned that it was a “setup” by council to make that land available for purchase. 

“If we intend to keep that land for community purposes, then it makes no sense to make that land operational. So I suspect that if council don’t get the desired figure for Lamerton House, then this land could be part of the deal to get a higher sum, to get the hub project going,” Cr Moran said.

“It’s just another way of fooling the community that we got the full value for our assets.”

“I am concerned that this land, which was handed to council as open space, and which council has had long standing plans to have sports playing fields, could potentially be sold and another city-wide asset could go because of the hub,” Cr Moran said.

A council spokesperson said council were focused on finalising matters surrounding the ownership of the property, as proposed in the draft Project 7200 Planning Agreement that is currently on public exhibition.

‘‘Council has resolved that this land be classified as ‘operational’ upon coming into council ownership reflecting its current and primary function as a stormwater detention facility,’’ the spokesperson said.  

‘‘Council remains committed to providing three sports fields on this site.’’

Cr Moran said he fears the situation would mirror that of the sale process of the old Warilla council chambers, where Warilla Library was rolled into the sale agreement at the last stage.

The matter of the deal with Stockland is considered confidential under the Local Government Act 1993 because disclosing the information could prejudice council’s negotiation in the sale of Lamerton House and would also be in breach of the contractual obligation. 

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