La Mancha Cara-Park Site Redevelopment
|About this Item||Subjects||Planning and Development; Caravans and Mobile Homes; Housing
||Speakers||Hopwood Mrs Judy
||Business||Private Members Statements
Mrs HOPWOOD (Hornsby) [5.37 p.m.]: La Mancha Cara-Park is situated in my electorate within the Berowra community. For many years it has been a caravan park and a place for long-term permanent residents to purchase and live in mobile homes. It has also been a place where caravan dwellers could seek out a holiday as part of being close to areas such as Brooklyn or as keen bushwalkers. Last November life altered for 43 of the permanent residents and mobile home owners when notice was given to them to the effect that they would be required to leave the cara-park by 9 June 2003. The reason for this sudden news was that the current owners of La Mancha were in the process of selling the land for further development.
The 34 site homes, housing 43 people, had to be either relocated or sold, with ensuring concerns over where they could find alternative sites, if at all. Without warning these people, who believed they were located in a permanent home, faced the prospect of losing what they had become attached to. Their familiar surroundings and comfortable way of life would soon be changed forever. Some had local jobs and others were truly retired. A number had illnesses that required regular medical visits and, as a result, they had become well-known patients of doctors whose practices were nearby.
The land in question is zoned residential and had been so for quite a long time. As a caravan park and base for mobile homes it operated under existing use arrangements. The owners, businesspeople, were entitled to sell the area to developers because of the zoning, but this did not help the people who would bear the brunt of the unintended consequences of such a sale. I attended a public meeting with members of the Affiliated Residential Park Residents Association and listened to the concerns raised and tried to put into place a realistic path for these now vulnerable people to follow. First and foremost, they wanted to stay where they were. If this was not possible they wanted to move to another site close to the Hornsby area, or receive a fair amount of money for their homes if selling was the only option. Every person at the meeting—100 per cent—raised his or her hand and said yes when asked if they would agree to move into public housing if that were possible.
Concurrently, the then Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning, and Minister for Housing imposed a moratorium on the rezoning of caravan parks because of the potential social impact of removing homes from under the feet of residents who would probably have very few options for future accommodation. The caravan park in my electorate fell outside that action because it had already been rezoned. La Mancha residents received very little assistance from the Minister's office and are still waiting for some realistic options to deal with their concerns. Vacant possession and homelessness stare them in the face and no compensation is assured for people such as Maryanne Miller, Eileen Jones and others who are in the gallery this evening.
This is a housing issue. As I said, every person faced with eviction from the caravan park would move into public housing if it were an option. The only problem is that 1,000 people in my electorate are already on the waiting list for public housing. The permanent residents of La Mancha should be placed at the top of the priority housing list and given homes in which to live in the local area. This Government and the new Minister should recognise the emergency situation that has been created. These people all face exceptional circumstances when caravan parks are sold and they are left high and dry.
Precedents have been set in Queensland, and the New South Wales Carr Government should follow suit. In 2001 a caravan park in the Cairns area was suddenly closed. Even though the closure circumstances were different, the effect was the same: people were left homeless. The Queensland Minister for Housing arranged for five out of the 20 people left stranded by the park closure to be placed into priority public housing. At the moment, between seven and nine people out of 43 in La Mancha still will have no alternative accommodation when the caravan park closes.
I call on the New South Wales Minister for Housing to give a guarantee that any person who is unable to find housing—that is, no other site can be found within the prerequisite 300 kilometres, or his or her mobile home cannot be moved—should be placed in public housing. That would be the compassionate way to relieve the La Mancha residents of the misery associated with their sudden upheaval and possible bleak future. Other parks within reasonable distance will not permit some mobile homes to be moved to their facilities because of the homes' age or size, or the lack of sites. I have petitions signed by local residents in support of the people who could be left homeless in a few short weeks.
There appears to be a trend to alter the use of caravan parks, and older and vulnerable people are the victims of such changes. La Mancha has already had its zoning changed, but governments must be insightful about the effects of sudden loss of tenure on supposedly permanent residents of such parks and ensure that their interests are protected. I again urge the Minister to place the remaining residents into public housing immediately.