’We’re livid’: Caravan park residents told to leave
RESIDENTS at a Sunshine Coast caravan park have been left fearing for their futures after being told they have six months to get out.
Most of those affected by the decision have nowhere to go and often no means of getting there if they did.
SEQ Properties Pty Ltd handed eviction notices to those affected on Monday ahead of a planned refurbishment of the Tripcony Hibiscus Caravan Park in Bulcock Street Caloundra.
Spokesman Angus Booker said in a statement 23 leases held from medium to long-term will not be renewed.
Many of the vans can't be towed. Owners will only be able to sell for removal.
Eleven sites would be allowed to stay on their month to month lease agreements as would a further seven SEQ Properties determined had special circumstances.
Jenni McCullagh, who has lived permanently in the park since 2014, said she feared suicides among "a lot of very fragile people".
Ms McCullagh said the 2008 announcement of a new lease over the park had created a false sense of security among residents.
It had been the reason in 2014 - at the time freehold title was being sought by SEQ Properties - she had spent $46,000 purchasing a van and then spent another $60,000 to make it into a comfortable one-bedroom apartment.
It will cost $40,000 to cut her home into three pieces for transport elsewhere.
Instead she intends to gut it and sell what she can.
"This is the legacy of the Queensland Government," Ms McCullagh said.
"They allowed this to happen.
"There are mentally-fragile people with nowhere to go. They have no money. The state government owes them housing.
"I wouldn't have spent 10 cents here if I thought they would freehold it.
"People are livid. Every cent they had in their lives is gone. Many don't drive and need to be in location close to everything. If they had just spoken the truth it would have changed factors for people (in making decisions)."
SEQ Properties was granted a new 30-year lease on the land by the State Government in 2008 under Anna Bligh.
In 2008 Natural Resources Minister Craig Wallace said the welfare of the park's then 85 permanent residents was paramount in the decision to keep the park which has been used for camping purposes since the 19th century.
Freehold title to the property was granted by the State Government in 2016 under a process commenced in 2014 when the LNP was in power.
A spokesman for the Premier said the Department of Housing will be in touch with affected residents.
A spokesman for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister Anthony Lynham said the LNP changed the restrictions over the land to allow it to become freehold land.
"However, it has been advised that even under the leasehold arrangement, this may have been allowed," the spokesman said.
"The Government would call on the land owners to ensure the land use is consistent with community expectations and ensure residents are not disadvantaged.''
Caloundra MP Mark McArdle said residents had been told to leave the park by March 23.
"We have some time," he said. "People need proper legal advice to suit each circumstance. The leases signed were different from person to person. We need to get people in front of legal advice as to their rights.
"I urge anyone in receipt of such a notice to contact QSTARS on 1300744263. I will offer any assistance I can."
In a statement SEQ Properties said tourist demand had outstripped supply to the point that this winter from June-August it had turned away 10,000 accommodation nights, in bookings it couldn't accommodate.
"Pressed with increased demand, SEQ Properties is undertaking further redevelopment of the park to increase the number of camp sites, allowing more visitors to stay and experience Caloundra and the Sunshine Coast," Mr Booker said.
"We acknowledge the impact this will have on those residents and have numerous measures in place provide additional support and to soften the impact."