Council's big sigh of relief -- Housing fears after Banora Pt park sale

By SAMANTHA HEALY

WHILE the ink on the sale documents of the notorious Banora Point Caravan Park is barely dry, Tweed Shire Council is relieved to have ex-park owner Warren Tschannen out of their lives.

After years of battling Mr Tschannen in court, yesterday, Council's director of planning and regulations Noel Hodge's said even Council was "absolutely shocked by what Tschannen got up to" while owner of the van park.

"It wasn't our land, but everyone kept saying we should go in and enforce the regulations, but the only power we had was to cancel his license," Mr Hodges said.

"If we had cancelled his license it would have been worse for residents because they would have had no rights to occupy the land.

"We were trying to help those people, by trying to make him (Tschannen) live up to the regulations and meet his obligations.

"If we cancelled his license, residents would've had no where to go and he (Tschannen) would have got what he wanted. I've never seen anything like him."

Mr Tschannen recently sold the caravan park to developer Bob Morrison for $9 million. Mr Morrison told the Daily News last week that he had met with the park residents and offered financial assistance to relocate them to other parks or to help them move on.

Squatters at the park are expected to be moved on in coming weeks.

Mr Morrison, who has developed a number of over-50 lifestyle resorts, has plans to upgrade the rundown van park into the "most upmarket holiday park on the east coast".

But outspoken social activist and ex-Tweed Shire Councillor Dot Holdom said the sale of Banora Point van park was the sale of one the last low-cost housing options in the Tweed shire.

"Everyone is screaming about the rental crisis," Ms Holdom said. "It (Banora Point) provided a place for people who could not afford to buy or go into the private rental market."

"Now it's gone, you have to wonder what will fill the affordable housing gap."

Tweed MP Geoff Provest would just like legislators to learn from the Banora Point caravan park debacle, saying it was time legislation protecting park residents was revised.

"There are some very good examples of caravan park owners doing a successful job," Mr Provest said. "But It's beyond me why this has gone on so long," Mr Provest said.

"There are a significant number of people living in (caravan) parks in the Tweed but the Banora Point caravan park is a living, breathing example of where this legislation has fallen down."



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