Sunset claws -- Mur'bah industrial estate battle looming

PLANS for hundreds of new jobs in Murwillumbah with the expansion of some of the town's biggest employers have been thrown into doubt after the new owner of a long-awaited industrial estate pulled the plug on sales contracts.

A Gold Coast-based developer who only last week took over the Tweed Valley Enterprise Park from a local company has invoked a sunset clause related to delays in the project.

Affected are some of the biggest names in Murwillumbah business including Bedser Automotive, Pottsville Forge, building companies and others which had hoped to expand into the new estate, partly on land Tweed Shire Council sold to the original developers. They are believed to be seeking legal advice.

The cancellation of the contracts signed up to two years ago means the land may now be sold for higher prices because of the boom in real estate values.

Gold Coast developer Peter Mitchell's Tweed Central Pty Ltd recently paid $32 million to local earthmoving contractors Les and Jim Dickinson in a purchase Mr Mitchell describes as northern NSW's biggest ever industrial land deal.

Now Mr Mitchell hopes to get NSW Government help to lure businesses from Queensland's Gold Coast and elsewhere through concessions on payroll and other taxes for businesses relocating.

Yesterday Mr Mitchell said he intended to "add value" to the estate and hoped both the NSW government and opposition would agree to the same incentives offered to businesses relocating from interstate to encourage Sydney businesses with more than 50 employees to move to Murwillumbah.

Mr Mitchell said "approximately a dozen" contracts had been terminated under "terms and conditions which parties agreed to be bound by".

"Tweed Central has invoked a clause within the contract. Either party may elect to terminate the contractual arrangements," he said.

Mr Mitchell said it was "not pertinent" to comment on whether further negotiations with aggrieved parties would take place but pointed out his marketing agents, Murwillumbah-based Chris Chrisostomos and John Demiris, had a contract terminated and had accepted that.

"I'm into adding value," he said, "that is, bringing tenants who bring job creation, employment and money to Murwillumbah. Gold Coast businesses as well as Sydney-based and Victorian-based."

Yesterday with a legal stoush looming Mr Mitchell warned "the lawyers better back off" as he was on a strong legal footing and accused some of the potential buyers of being "just speculators" who had to "take their chance like everybody else".

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