Council urged to fast track caravan park purchase

By John Lewis

Greater Shepparton City Council has been urged to fast track the purchase of land to the south of Victoria Park Lake as the completion of the new Shepparton Art Museum approaches.

Victoria Lake Caravan Park currently occupies the site, which is crown land owned by the Department of Environment Water and Planning.

Council voted in 2018 to push ahead with plans to buy the site with the aim of securing a developer to enter a long-term lease and develop the area into four-star quality accommodation.

Former Shepparton mayor Geoff Dobson said the area was in danger of remaining a backwater without redevelopment, and added the imminent completion this year and opening of the new SAM facilities next year required more haste in the purchase process.

“The land needs to be acquired sooner rather than later to maximise its tourism potential, Mr Dobson said.

He said the department appeared to be "in no hurry" to assist council to develop the site.

“The result of that is that council cannot offer the site to restaurant, bar and tourist outlet developers or professional caravan park developers to transform the site into a ‘go-to’ precinct or expand the site for RV travellers, which has made Nagambie a first class tourist attraction,” Mr Dobson said.

Council's director infrastructure Phil Hoare confirmed council is in negotiation with DELWP to purchase the land with the aim of being able to offer a longer-term lease to potential developers.

“Part of the caravan park site is on crown land and because of that we are limited to a 21-year lease,” Mr Hoare said.

He said the purchase process required extensive legal documentation including a Bill of Parliament.

“We're probably four-sixths of the way to completion with DELWP, but it is a long process,” Mr Hoare said.

Mr Dobson said that council-owned land adjoining the caravan park on the western edge of the lake could also be developed and used as a camping site for large recreational (RV) vehicles.

He said the whole area had the potential to become a major tourist drawcard including a pedestrian bridge across the Broken River linking to the botanic gardens.

“All this means that as a community we must back council in its endeavours to take ownership of the caravan park as soon as possible,” Mr Dobson said.