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Byron Shire
April 13, 2021

Long-term van owners evicted from Bruns parks

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Campers at Ferry Reserve Holiday Park. Photo brunswickheads.org.au
Campers at Ferry Reserve Holiday Park. Photo brunswickheads.org.au

 

Chris Dobney

Thirty-three long-term holidaymakers have received eviction notices from the management of three Brunswick Heads holiday parks: Massey Greene, The Terrace and Ferry Reserve.

The three parks are managed by the NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust (NCHPT), which recently had a controversial new management plan approved by lands minister Kevin Humphries.

According to the plan, all long-term, so-called ‘storage’ vans are to make way for new infrastructure and upgraded sites.

Owners have been told their vans must be removed from the site by September 2 or they will be demolished.

Echonetdaily understands that no eviction notices have been handed to a number of residents residing adjacent to the Brunswick River boundary, despite the fact that a condition of the park’s current licence requires that ‘the boundary of the 30 dwelling sites (identified as sites numbered 100 to 129 inclusive) located on the northern side of the park [is] to be set back a distance of not less than three metres from the top of the Brunswick River bank.’

Licence to operate expired

But a group of the ‘storage’ van owners are digging their heels in, saying the NCHPT is in breach of those Byron Shire Council licence conditions and that, in any case, the council’s licences for at least two of the parks have lapsed.

Van owner Kelly McKelvey, who has a van at Massey Greene, has lodged a complaint with the Department of Fair Trading on behalf of the 11 owners who have been evicted from that park.

She argues that because the council-issued licences for the operation of at least two of the parks have expired the eviction notices are null and void.

‘According to the Holidays Park (Long Term Casual Occupation ) Act 2002 we are defined as “long term casual occupants” and all have an occupation agreement in place whereby we pay a monthly occupation fee to the management to continue our right to occupy a site and house our moveable dwelling on the site,’ she said in a statement to the department

‘My interpretation of the … legislation [is that it] requires that the park owner or park manager has the [delegated power] to issue the Notice of Termination.

‘At the time of issuing the notice of termination, being 28 May 2015, the NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust was not the park owner or the park manager because their Licence to Operate the Park under section 69 of the LGA had expired.

‘Their licence to operate expired on 8 May 2015.  Furthermore the Licence to Operate the Ferry Reserve Caravan Park expired years earlier.  I suspect operating a caravan park without a licence is a matter for the Investigators of your department,’ Ms McKelvey wrote.

In a letter to the editor published in Echonetdaily today, Col & Carmel McAndrew of Massey Greene, described the plans as ‘ambiguous’.

‘ They state whenever a holiday van site is vacated or relinquished in the future, that site will be made available for tourist use,’ the couple said.

‘It appears these plans deem long term holiday van owners and their families as not valuable repeat holiday visitors and are not included in future tourism and management plans for the area.’

The couple added they had ‘attempted to contact Steve Edmonds, the CEO of NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust, at his office in Newcastle for comment. However at this stage there has been no reply’.

Greens MLC Jan Barham recently called on parliament to revoke the new plans of management, saying they may contain ‘misleading information about the boundaries’ and that the plans risked ‘the natural, European and cultural heritage of the area as well as the provision of affordable housing.’


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2 COMMENTS

  1. Designated storage van sites in caravan parks have traditionally been taken up by those who do not want to live as permanent tenants and be bound by the number of calendar days one has to be in residence. Most often these sites are leased and have dwellings on them which can be used by the owner as holiday accommodation.

    As a tenant, occupiers of these sites need only be given 90 days notice to vacate. In issuing the Notice to Vacate, management has adhered to the legislative requirements.

    The notion that the licenses for Terrace and Massy Greene had expired prior to the issuing of the Notice to Vacate may carry little weight for affected owners with the Department of Fair Trading as there is a 3 month ‘grace’ period during which the license allows the caravan park to continue to operate. But the story is vastly different for those on storage van sites in Ferry. The s68 F2 license, giving approval to operate as a caravan park,j expired 30.6.12 i.e. 3 years ago. The Department of Fair Trading ought to be extremely interested in that point and the subsequent legality of any notice. North Coast Holiday Parks and the New South Wales Crown Holiday Parks Trust are very much aware of the expiration dates on all the caravan parks!

    As to what can people do in the immediate time:
    1. Put political pressure on the Minister for Crown Lands, Niall Blair to revoke the Plans of Management for all the caravan parks.
    2. Pressure Byron Shire Councillors NOT to renew the s68 licenses for Massy Greene and Terrace caravan park. My understanding is that these will be coming up at Council meeting 16 July. Councillors need to be reassured that NCHP/NSWCHPT does not determine the boundaries and conditions of license for the caravan parks. That responsibility lies with the elected Council. Supporting NO renewal of license means that Council is not supporting the POM (development plans) for the caravan parks. Refusing to renew the s68 license has to be put into context. The original license was issued 10 May 2013 as a 12 month ‘interim license’ only pending agreement with Council and North Coast Holiday Parks/North Coast Accommodation Trust on the boundaries for the caravan parks. The latter were intimately involved in the preparation of the POM. No agreement was reached. NCHP and the incoming New South Wales Crown Holiday Parks Trust (NSWCHPT) put on the POM in December 2013 and they were approved by Minister Kevin Humphries in June 2014. The abuse of the interim license and its unintended use in the exhibited and now approved POM demands independent scrutiny not simply a ‘review’ by the Minister.

    The above 2 actions would, I believe, put a halt to any Notice to Vacate storage van sites. And NCHP/NSWCHPT are very much aware of what is at stake with their application for a renewal of license for Massy Greene and Terrace caravan parks.

  2. I have been coming to Massey Greene for 52 years as a small child, teenager, then as a young married couple then with my family and now grandbabies.
    We will not be dropping into your community the rates which I might add are a lot more than what you pay as a resident.
    We will not be spending on average $200 a day per person and 11 family members that come down over a 6 week period at Xmas and many week ends during the year. Estimated $30,000 per year gone
    We will not be coming to the market once a month.
    This is a tragedy for everyone in the community and extremely sad we as a family will build new memories somewhere else
    There will be job loses with this decision and the losers are the long term caravan owners and the community
    Disappointed

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