Lithgow City Council has responded to matters raised in the public forum session of last night’s Meeting. The matters relate to the Council’s 2017 sale of a 17 hectare parcel of land at Wallerawang.
The current General Manager, Craig Butler, who was not with the Council when this matter was dealt with in the past said, “The decision to sell this land was taken by the Council 5 ½ years ago after they received a report on the matter by the administration of that time. This was prompted by an unsolicited offer to purchase the land.”
“The report included a valuation which demonstrated that the financial offer that had been received for purchase of the land was at or above market value at the time. The report also established that no strategic purpose had been identified for the land. On this basis, the land was considered surplus to the needs of the Council, at that time.”
Mr Butler also said, “The report proposed that the funds from the sale of the land be held for investment in economic development initiatives. Today, the funds held for that purpose in Council`s Land Bank total $1.5M. An example of how the funds are being used is found in the purchase of a 20 hectare site at Bowenfels in 2021 and the proposed 80 dwelling first stage subdivision which the Council is currently advancing for this site near the Lithgow hospital. This first stage is valued at more than $14 million and the Council will establish a goal of more than 20% return from the project. So, the funds from the sale of the Wallerawang land have been held and beneficially used for the development of more strategic and higher value sites.”
Mr Butler highlighted how practices had changed, “This Council is transparent, prudent and responsible in managing public funds. In relation to property matters such as this, there are substantial differences in the practices of this Council today. In the past, the consideration about selling this particular parcel of land was dealt with in a closed section of Council because the report contained commercially confidential information. Today though, all proposals for use or sale of land or buildings are the subject of a report to the open section of the Council meeting. In 2018, Council also adopted the Land Acquisition & Disposal Policy to ensure that a tender or other competitive process is followed for land sales”.