Council ramps up land sales

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times

Bunbury’s land bank is expected to be gradually released onto the market this year in a bid to develop underutilised prime blocks and encourage investment.

Bunbury City Council has seemingly struggled to sell big blocks of vacant land, but Mayor Gary Brennan is confident a number of initiatives will help get the blocks moving.

The council budgeted to make more than $5 million from land disposals during the 2016-17 financial year, but only managed an income of $727,187 from land sales.

The previous year was even less with just $144,123 in sales.

The 2017-18 Budget forecasts the council will make more than $6.4 million if it was to be more successful this year.

But Mr Brennan said a lack of land sales in the city was not necessarily a concern and the council’s budget did not rely on it.

“We don’t do up the budget relying on those sales to balance it out,” Mr Brennan said.

“Any cash made from those sales would go into the city’s asset renewal reserve accounts.”

He said the council was this year expected to benefit from an agreement with Landcorp to investigate potential development and sale of Bunbury land as well as an expressions of interest campaign by Colliers International for several prime CBD blocks to go on the market.

“The land we’ve got under an MOU with Landcorp will gradually be released to the market over current and gradual years,” he said.

“And a report is due back to council from Colliers by mid-August, so we’ll know if there’s been any interest.”

Among the sites is the former Punchbowl Caravan Park at Ocean Drive and a slice of land at the corner of Spencer and Clarke streets adjacent to the Hands Oval precinct.

Mr Brennan said he was confident the land would eventually move and it would increase the city’s rate base, rather than its rates which he was keen to see happen.

“I just keep saying, Bunbury has so much potential and there are people investing heavily in our city,” he said.

“It’s very pleasing to see there are residents of Bunbury and people who have a long-term interest in Bunbury that are investing.

“That’s a strong showing of confidence and I can only see that growing.”

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