Council weighs up pros and cons of potential TAFE site purchase

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Community Noosa Council Property & Real Estate University & TAFE

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A due diligence report investigating the future of the former Tewantin TAFE site has highlighted the potential costs to ratepayers should Council decide to purchase the property from the State Government.

Mayor Tony Wellington said Council and the State were discussing a potential sale price, but no decision had yet been made for Council to purchase the facility.

“It is of utmost importance to form our decision around the best interests of Noosa ratepayers, the benefit to the broader Noosa community and also compliance with Council’s financial sustainability policy,” Mayor Wellington said.

“Effectively we have three options to consider. We can do nothing and choose not to purchase the site, leaving it to the State to dispose of the facility to the private sector. Alternatively, we could purchase the site and rent it out to a commercial or community enterprise. Thirdly, we could purchase it, develop the site for a specified purpose, and then on-sell it.

“Of course the State are not going to simply give the land and buildings to Council. They are wanting a return on their asset. Both Council and the State have carried out separate valuations on the facility.

“The report, which Council considered at its Special Meeting on Friday, identified that even under a best-case scenario, with Council purchasing the site and leasing the buildings at a reasonable commercial rate, the net outcome could still result in an overall loss to Council. There are repair, maintenance and depreciation costs to consider, as well as possibly refitting the buildings for a new purpose.

“At the meeting, Councillors discussed not only possible future uses, but also the strategic nature of the land parcel as well as the facility’s potential benefit to the community,” the Mayor said.

“The site also has significant environmental value, with half the area containing endangered vegetation, and all of the bush identified as habitat for koalas, the glossy black cockatoo and the wallum rocketfrog.”

Mayor Wellington said that Council understands the significant community interest in the site.

“This has been an ongoing source of community concern since the LNP government closed the facility in 2014,” he said.

“The State has prevaricated for years about disposing of the facility. Thanks to the urgings of Member for Noosa Sandy Bolton, the State is finally in a position to discuss the sale.

“Council’s Project Officer has not been able to identify any sizeable anchor tenants or major commercial interests, and that includes education providers. However, it was noted that there are limitations in identifying users without an EOI process, and that can’t happen until the ownership issue is resolved.

“The report did note that there is currently plenty of commercial and community space available elsewhere in the shire, including in Tewantin.

“Inevitably, there are no lack of ideas being thrown around for use of the site, including but not limited to aged care, affordable housing, innovation hubs and various other possibilities. But whether any of these options is viable may be subject to a future business case analysis.

“Meanwhile, Friday’s Special Meeting unanimously determined to continue negotiating with the State, with any decision to purchase to come before a future meeting of Council,” the Mayor said.

The Tewantin TAFE site opened in 2006 but closed in 2014 following the State Government’s review of TAFE. The 11-hectare site includes four main buildings, a shed and 95 parking spaces.

 
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