The Clarence City Council has triggered the buy-back clause in its Kangaroo Bay Wharf Site deal with developer Chambroad, paving the way for the land to be returned to public hands.
The Council was not prepared to give another extension to Chamboard, which described the decision as “a massive lost opportunity for the community” but resolved to work with stakeholders to achieve a positive outcome.
The meeting on 20 March was the last chance for the Council to consider a different path forward for the project before the buy-back clause in the current Sale and Development Agreement with Chambroad expired on 12 April.
But the Council deemed that Chambroad had already received ample time and a number of extensions, and reaffirmed its decision of 23 January to request the Chief Executive Officer initiate the buy-back of the site.
The site will now be formally considered as part of the City Heart Project, and included in subsequent community consultations so a way forward that has community support can be found.Clarence Mayor Brendan Blomeley said while it was disappointing the site would lie empty for a while longer, Council wasn’t prepared to keep giving Chambroad more time.
“Chambroad has had sufficient time to get this development out of the ground and it is disappointing they have fallen short, given the previous extensions that Council has provided,” he said.“Given this, Council has decided it is not prepared to provide them another extension.
It’s long past time for them to step away, and for us to step in and execute the buy-back clause.”
Chambroad Australia expressed its “extreme disappointment” at the Council’s decision.Project director Greg Hudson said the Council had ignored community support for the proposed hotel’s new design, with 70 per cent of locals expressing some level of support according to Chambroad’s research.
“After being invited to put forward plans for Kangaroo Bay back in 2016, and striking an agreement in 2017, it is a real about-face by Council to now vote to rip that agreement up,” he said.
“Since we purchased the land, we have expended over $12 million to get to the point we have reached today, including multiple redesigns based on community feedback.
“Over recent months we have expended $500,000 alone, doing everything and more that Council asked in terms of community consultation and design changes.“In our view we have made – and continue to make – all reasonable attempts to satisfy our legal obligations under our agreement with Council.
“We have consistently stated that we wish to avoid this outcome as parties would face inevitable substantial costs and potentially years of delays.“The Kangaroo Bay Hotel was a once in a generation opportunity for a world-class hotel and restaurant on the Eastern Shore.”
Premier and Tourism Minister Jeremy Rockliff urged the Council to reconsider its decision and offered to convene an urgent meeting of key stakeholders. “The best way to resolve this situation and move forward with development at the site is for all the stakeholders involved to come together and work it through,” he said.
“We cannot miss the opportunity and allow this site to be left a wasteland for years, which benefits no one.”
Mr Hudson said Chambroad looks forward to working with all stakeholders to achieve a positive outcome and avoid a protracted legal dispute which would “leave the site vacant with a chain-lined fence for an indefinite period”