18 May 2006

Taskforce to fix longstay caravan park problem

| Kerces
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This release just in from the Chief Minister’s Office (quoted in full below): Jon Stanhope has put together a cross-agency taskforce to find a solution to the problems now faced by the residetns of the Narrabundah longstay caravan park.

The taskforce is to report back within a week.

Mr Stanhope said it was little use now dwelling on the sale since it is irreversible, and a plan needs to be made “that would give security and comfort to the park’s tenants”.

The taskforce will be made up of the CEOs of Housing ACT, the Department of Territories and Municipal Services and ACT Planning and Land Authority, and possibly some others.

UPDATE: Deb Foskey has accused the Liberals of “sucking up to the business community”


Chief Minister Jon Stanhope has convened a high-level taskforce to come up with an urgent resolution to issues confronting residents of the recently-sold long-stay caravan park at Narrabundah.

Mr Stanhope said the issue deserved a whole-of-government response and he had instructed the chief executive of the Chief Minister’s Department, Mike Harris, to chair a cross-agency taskforce, which had been asked to report back with options for resolving the concerns of park tenants within a week. The taskforce will involve the CEOs of Housing ACT, the Department of Territories and Municipal Services and ACT Planning and Land Authority.

The Chief Minister said that while much community anger was still understandably focused on the sale of the park by Koomarri to a private developer, there was probably little to be gained in the short term by an autopsy of the sale, which seemed to be irreversible. What was crucial now was to come up with a plan that would give security and comfort to the park’s tenants.

“While individuals have a range of reasons for making their home in long-stay caravan parks I think it is indisputable that some residents of these parks are among the least financially secure members of our community, with the least capacity to pull up stumps on demand,” Mr Stanhope said.

“This is a complicated issue, and will require a creative solution. I have convened a taskforce that will bring together a number of officials from across the ACT Government to come up with possible solutions as a matter of the most extreme urgency.”

Statement Ends

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i live in the n.l.s.park, and i find living here is the best thing i have done.
i must ask you all this….
can you without a worry in the world allow your 7yo daughter to go for a walk around the streets without you… i can as in this park she has 150 aunts and uncles that know her and hwere she lives and who her family is.
can you go away for a long weekend and not worry about your house getting broken into… i can
if you walk down the street could you talk to evry one in your street and know them by name and there family…. i can
do you know all the elderly folk in your street and does everyone watch for them every day to make sure they see them incase they fall and break a hip (or worse)… we all do.
can you have a street bbq and have 150 people show up like a huge family where everyone chips in with food and drinks and if someone cant afford food for the bbq there is pleny to go aound…. we can
if your neibours get into a bit of strife and can afford food or a bill would you know or pass the hat around…. we do.
when koomarri says that 65-85% of tenant were behind in there rent did they SAY, that they would not accept payments the last 2-3 weeks before the sale was put through… no they didnt.. so guess why 65-85% were behind in there rents… ask koomari
we are just a huge family in here and thats what we fight for… we wont get another place like this any where, let alone loosing our houses we loose our homes

In an attempt to clarify, I took photos of my home, and a couple of others in my street, but I’m not computer smart enough to get them on the site. The homes are best described as caravans and transportables with various annexes, carports, and garages attached, or fixed dwellings. Some in the park are beautifully maintained, some are not, pretty much as is the case in suburbia.
The Longstay is in Narrabundah Lane, next door to the Sundown Village, down the road from the TGA.
I paid $29,000.00 for my place, and I’ve probably spent another $5,000.00 doing up the bathroom and restoring the verandah.
I did a survey of the park, and found only three sites where removal would not entail extensive disassembly of annexes or other structural improvements. It would cost thousands of dollars to move any of the “vans”, mostly requiring cranes and low loaders,the further the move the higher the cost, if there was a place to put them which there isn’t.
I’ve lived here for 5 years, as did my wife till she died of cancer last year. My home is full of her things, her memory, her love.
Forget about finding us somewhere else to go, help us find a solution that lets us stay where we are, because we’re not moving!!!!

barking toad4:02 pm 19 May 06

All van parks should have pissed old blokes wandering round sans shirt and swigging on a longneck – just like in the ‘burbs.

It’s tradition – I do it often – but I’m not old

I only believe in long stay caravan parks when there’s an air of neglect.

HAHAHAHA!! Damn right!!!!!

… unless they’re both hot, eh?

Now come on, everyone: people in glass removeable emergency public housing with an air of neglect shouldn’t throw stones…

Yes, H, you have it wrong. Narrabundah LSCP is on Mugga Lane in Symonston near Jerrabomberra Ave, between the Sundown Village and an olive farm.

I agree with the air of neglect comment.

I was unaware that there were more than one park in that area.

So Roland, keen to enter dialogue on whether or not it was appropriate at any level for your leader to be occupying a house that any given member of the caravan park could have been in while she was earning the top dosh as a MLA ?

Regardless, that’s one house. How many more are being held up by executive level public servants via the security of tenure clause ?

I’m positive an aggressive audit would find sufficient housing to accomodate the entire caravan park.

I do hope you realise Roland that your words are weightless given your leaders track record in bludging off the public teat.

OK. I thought the Fyshwick Caravan Park (the one with the Pub on it) was the Longstay. Have I got that wrong?

Many of the homes are works in progress.

Yes the gravel roads are in poor condition. The Sundown motel and Caravan Park next door proposed to seal them if they had been successful with their bid to buy it from Koomarri.

(I understand that Koomarri had indicated it would seal them earlier on but failed to deliver.)

“I disagree with the air of neglect comment “

How would they objectively be described then?

barking toad9:11 am 19 May 06


…I’m not old!


…who are the britons?

…how do you become king then?

Vic Bitterman10:36 pm 18 May 06

Sorry Blinker and dusty, I lost my shirt playing 2-up with a greens politician. Ronald the Green, was his name, or something like that….

God save us from the disgusting ataxic drunk men with no shirts and long necks, FFS.

Yes, well my apologies for offending anyone with my ‘air of neglect’comment, but, I still stand by it. The Longstay has long suffered from a lack of good maintenance for some time, it appears. Unmown grass, cracked and potholed roads, tumbledown and patched up “caravans”, dry and dusty, no facilities to speak of. If Koomarri have really spent $200 k on maintenance of late, as they claim, I think they should ask for a refund. You can’t see that sort of money anywhere. It seems that while the residents are keen to stay, that there should be a better alternative for them than that place. I know its better than nothing but I’m sure glad that I dont have to live there. At least its a step up from the Fyshwick Caravan Park, on Canberra Ave, which with its tavern, has obvious huge social problems. I had a look in there too lately and was horrified by a disgusting drunk old man with no shirt on staggering around with a longneck in his hand- gross.
Anyway, surely the Longstay could have been improved to include something like short term pod housing- a cheap, adaptive, flexible and very comfortable modular alternative- the ACT government could provide easily for a whole lot of people on their waiting list. What a great way to reduce waiting times for govvie houses, trouble is that they’re so easy to live in the tenants would probably want to stay. I include a link to Houses of the Future for your reference

Rustic living?

Ashamedly I have had enough to do with long stay caravan parks to know that “air of neglect” is probably the most appropriate way to describe the majority of dwellings found within such establishments. The same could be said for quite a number of Government funded, low income housing as well.
However being that the above is generally a reflection of the tennants attitude, there are always exceptions of well kept premises.

Okay, Roland, how would you describe them then?

Renovators dream project?

Olde Worlde charm?

I disagree with the air of neglect comment

Dear Thumper and shauno, sorry to disappoint you both but I must point out to you that what you have stated is incorrect. The 2 Allhomes listings you have linked to are not in the Longstay Caravan Park at all, but in the privately run Sundown Van Park, which is next door. The Sundown used to be the drive-in. Sundown is a completely different caravan park, and is well-kept and privately run.
Narrabundah Longstay is next door, a little further up Narrabundah Lane.
The Sundown should not be confused with the little more ‘down-at-mouth’ Longstay. You do not see residences like those pictured on Allhomes at the Longstay, ever. Most at the Longstay are pretty run down, with a general air of neglect. I know because I had a drive around there recently.

I couldn’t believe how much they wanted to sell their relocatable homes for. $165k and $236K!!!! And you don’t own any land for that money! There are plenty of units for sale for those $$. Check out the Queanbeyan unit market on allhomes for a comparison – and they’re literally minutes up the road.
I also agree with the comments above about Housing – they should be seeking value for money in terms of getting a roof over needy peoples’ heads, not buying places like City Edge.

“These are an example of the so called caravans.



Are those in the caravan park in question. If so the owner must be pissed off at the timing. No one is going to buy that now.

The information about the homes in question being permanent structures is incorrect. All the homes on site at Narrabundah ARE transportable, regardless of how they appear. It is a legal requirement for dwelling(s) placed on a long stay site to be readily moveable. This doesn’t necessarily mean just hitching a van up to their Kingswood and hauling their arse out of there, but any of these places could be moved if need be.

Still, thats probably not a major issue in the argument over the future of the park.

Big Al may have touched on something there. “decisions made about their “investment” in that dwelling were based on an assumption that the zoned land use would remain a constant and that while owners of the caravan park may change, their tenure would be secure as long as they kept up their lease payments.”

It appears they have not kept up their lease payments which may be the reason Koomari decided to sell. It was not financially viable to keep in open.

I am still going to play devils advocate in this one as no one else seems to.

If ACT housing invested in more low income housing that was similar to these home they could have housed all these people and the ones on the waiting list in parks like the one we are talking about. Instead they pay market rates for houses in the suburbs and apartments (for example City Edge in O’Connor). For each of these places they could probably build 5 smaller dwellings in a park.

You can’t jump up and down about these people saving Housing money. I saved Housing money by getting off my arse going to work and buying my own house as well. Does that make me a Saint in your eyes?

Big Al, you’re dead right, on every count. These are homes, not readily transportable, and in many cases there is a big investment there. Beacuse these homes are not separately titled, they would have had problems seeking finance, and I doubt very much if these people would be eligible for things like the First Home Owners Grant.

Therefore, they have already saved the taxpayer money, they have shown initiative in what they’ve done (they are in a low-income, low socio-economic group, and a few are “damaged” in some way).

They’ve solved their own housing problem, relieved the govt of that burden, yet have been badly let down by government, business and the community.

It’s all a bloody shame, which could have been prevented if Corbell had done something when Deb Foskey first raised this as an issue prior to the sale.

With the current emergency housing list at 12 months before placement, I don’t see a snowball’s chance in hell at getting these people housing without pushing someone just a needy out of the way to do it.

I think that some understanding of the type of accommodation might be useful – there seems to be a presumption that the dwellings these people are living in are readily transportable – like a traditional caravan. Although this is not an unreasonable assumption, given that they are living in a caravan park, the reality is that many of these dwellings are in fact small houses.

Some are similar to the upmarket accommodation on offer at caravan parks on the south coast – with two or three bedrooms, separate bathroom or en suite, conventional plumbing etc. Others are more makeshift – perhaps being a bit like a site shed from a construction site and no doubt some are genuine caravans in the traditional sense.

The people living here have leased the space within the caravan park and have built a dwelling on that space that I would imagine meets whatever planning requirements are in place. One can only assume that decisions made about their “investment” in that dwelling were based on an assumption that the zoned land use would remain a constant and that while owners of the caravan park may change, their tenure would be secure as long as they kept up their lease payments.

These people have accommodated themselves comfortably at what could only be described as the lowest end of the housing market – probably with little assistance from government housing schemes. I’d suggest that the issue here is not about finding these people somewhere else to “park” their caravan, but rather that it is about finding these people homes.

I can’t find a fault in the eviction notice serviced to the residents at the park. Changes to the law would be more productive in the sense of moving forward – govt has missed the boat on this one, and…everyone will be looking to the ads on the LHS of this webpage for a place to plonk the van once the landlord has insisted upon moving on the residents at Narrabundah Park.

In another thread on the topic Johnboy said: “It would be very easy for Simon, after the site has been cleared out by the police, to say “well with everyone booted out what’s the point” and agree to change the land use.”

From this release it looks like he was right.

What about all those school ovals that are unusable due to the drought ?

Perfect spot for a few vans.

I would hope they have an expert lawyer on drafting legislation on contracts in caravan parks and transferral of the land to a new owner. The law is sadly lacking! The eviction notice that the Narra Longstay residents find themselves with must be addressed first. Residents in all ACT Caravan parks are now in no man’s land legally and commercially.
The Property Council must be proud of their man, as they gave him an award awhile back.
Trust that the task force canvasses all the possible options, and I have no problem with it’s finding not being made public, as long as the residents have a good outcome.

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