Philip Street bushland in limbo
By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au
A STATE of confusion exists over the Philip Street bushland, stalling plans for the community to take ownership of it. A debate started more than 10 years ago after initial plans to develop the land.
The land was bought from the State Government by the Gladstone City Council in March last year, but as yet that is as far as it's gone.
The council is now waiting for the State Government to finalise the sale so it can take official ownership.
However in a confusing twist, the State Government is waiting for the council to finalise the sale, raising questions about who has control of the land.
Minister for Housing Robert Schwarten took a swipe at the council, saying he was getting increasingly frustrated as the issue continued to drag on.
'I have just about run out of patience that this has not been finalised,' Mr Schwarten said.
Mr Schwarten said his department, which has been involved in much of the debate as owners of the land, sent documents back to the council some time ago and was awaiting a reply.
"The mortgage documents have been sent to council and we hope that council will put a priority on this because it is a very good deal and a good parcel of land,'' Mr Schwarten said.
The land was sold to the council at half of its estimated land value as part of a deal struck with Mr Schwarten. However, while Mr Schwarten waits for an answer from the council, it waits for something from Mr Schwarten's department.
'We still don't have a signed document back from the government yet,' council chief executive Julie Reitano said.
The same issue came up in July with both parties believing the ball was in the court of the other. It seems the issue has not yet been resolved.
Ms Reitano said the council had been asked a question about paying GST on the sale and responded, however had not heard back from the government and weren't sure when they would.
'It's now back in their court and we just wait,' Ms Reitano said.
'There is no time frame, it's up to the state.'
'However it is not costing the community anything.'
A community group struck a deal to pay $150,000 a year for five years to buy the land back from the council so it could stay in its natural state.
Spokesperson for the group, David Caffin, said while they continued to wait for some action from the council and the government, the land was being destroyed.
'People are riding bikes and driving four-wheel-drives through the land and it is being wrecked,' Mr Caffin said.
Ms Reitano said the council was unable to do anything about damage to the land, because it didn't own it.
'It's not our land, we don't have any control I wouldn't think,' Ms Reitano said.