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Clarence Valley Council’s former visitor information centre at South Grafton has been the subject of five offers since late 2017, all of which were rejected. At next week’s CVC meeting, councillors are likely to send a planning proposal to the Planning Gateway, to enable a zoning change from SP3 Tourist to B5 Business Development and, as a result, “return an appropriate market value for the community when the property is sold”. Image: Contributed

Planning proposal next step in disposing of VIC

Geoff Helisma|


As property prices enjoy boom times around the country, Clarence Valley Council’s (CVC) albatross, the former visitor information centre at 2 Spring Street, South Grafton, remains unsold – but a zoning change could turn that around.

At next week’s CVC meeting, councillors are likely to endorse staff’s recommendation, to “submit a Planning Proposal (PP) to the Planning Gateway to rezone [the site] … from SP3 Tourist to B5 Business Development”.

At the July 2020 CVC meeting, councillors considered and rejected the fifth offer for the property, since being put on the market in late 2017, and, instead, voted in favour of “appointing an independent party” to prepare a PP – at the time, staff advised that “the officer’s recommendation aims to return an appropriate market value for the community when the property is sold” and “reduce council’s risk of holding vacant property”.

Historically, selling the property is part of CVC meeting the state government’s Fit for the Future requirements.

The planning proposal, prepared by Bennell & Associates, advises in its ‘Objectives’ section that it aims to “amend the zoning of the land … to enable a use that provides for employment and investment in the local area without impacting on the viability of the Grafton commercial centre; enable the land to be developed for uses (i.e. business light industrial) that are compatible with the surrounding area and supports the viability of the business centre; provides a land use outcome that allows the land to be used for its best and highest use; provides for the improved management of the land by increasing the economic viability of the land; and, provide for the development of the land in keeping with its environmental and servicing capacity”.

Proceeds of the sale, once completed, are “to be used by CVC to improve services and facilities in the [CVC] Local Government Area”.

“The Planning Proposal will be subject to the mandatory community participation requirements under Section 2.22 and Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the EP&A Act 1979; [and] a minimum requirement of 28 days public exhibition unless the gateway determination for the proposal specifies a different period of public exhibition,” the planning proposal states.