Cloud hangs over key parcel of land 

THE possible sale or lease of public land to the Marketplace developer has hit another snag.

It’s not bothering opponents, who are upping the ante against plans to close part of Verner St for the $28 million project.

A report to last Wednesday’s meeting revealed unresolved property conveyancing issues with land at Arcade Lane, surrounding private lanes and at the Huntly Arcade’s rear.

General manager Chris Berry said a question mark remained over whether the parcels were in Council’s name or the original subdivider’s from more than 150 years ago.

He told the meeting that while the land “looked and smelt like a car park,” the issue had to be finalised. This was regardless of whether Council decided to sell, lease or exchange the land, or not.

In June councillors controversially called for expressions of interest in 1806 square metres of public land.

It included part of Verner St, Arcade Lane and the Huntly Arcade’s carpark.

They did so after Marketplace developer A&A Lederer asked Council to sell the land for a large scale commercial expansion, including a Big W store.

But councillors can’t consider any of the expressions until the property matters are finalised.

Land and property services manager Ken Wheeldon told the Post a 1975 gazettal notice on one parcel of land came with the proviso Council must continue to provide free parking at the site.

Some sections of the community vehemently oppose any move to sell off part of the street for the project.

Goulburn Heritage Group, in particular, says this should not be considered without community input.

Furthermore, members argue the development application for Lederer’s project is intrinsically linked with the expressions of interest and should not be considered separately.

At an October 16 meeting, 22 people stood in unison, opposing Council’s move to discuss expressions of interest in closed committee.

Legal advice has revealed Council was within its rights to close discussion, despite public objections. But it had not cited the correct reason for doing so under the NSW Local Government Act “In light of the legal advice received, the decision to defer considerations of submissions (EofI) was prudent,” the report stated.

“It is now clear the property matters need to be investigated further and reported to Council before the matter can proceed.”

Also on Wednesday, Goulburn Heritage Group member John Proctor renewed his call for community consultation.

He said after six months Lederer’s development application remained deficient and too many questions remained over engineering, traffic, heritage and alternatives to closing Verner St Mr Proctor questioned who would manage and pay for traffic changes and facilities, forced by the closure. He argued the project could be contained on one block, without closing the street.

“The developer has chosen to proceed with the DA without community consultation,” he said.

“Why has Council chosen to accept this position and is not intending to undertake any early community consultation?” Retired accountant Mac Davidson told the meeting councillors should have been made aware of the “deficient” DA before considering whether to call expressions of interest in the land.

“Developers love to fatten their profits by obtaining road closures, as was attempted by the Argyle Mall proposal for the part closure of Goldsmith St (in 1999), which fortunately was not allowed,” he said.

“…I am not against development in Goulburn but it should not come at the cost of great inconvenience to local motorists and particularly as we are about to celebrate our 150 years as a city.”

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