Caravan park lifestyle under threat

PERMANENT residents of Coffs Coast caravan parks are being forced to make way for tourists, under new plans by the Department of Lands to phase out long-term accommodation.

A group of residents of Sawtell Beach Caravan Park anxiously gathered for an information meeting yesterday to learn how the plans would affect them.

The draft plans of management for the Park Beach and Sawtell reserves call for a review of leases in order to 'phase out long-term accommodation in favour of tourist accommodation' and the 'phasing out [of] long-term occupancy by natural attrition'.

This means that long-term residents can sell their homes but on-sold caravans cannot remain on the site, additions to their sites (e.g. carport) are no longer allowed, and while residents can leave their sites to their families, the families can't move in.

“They're just waiting for us to die out,” Sawtell Beach Caravan Park resident, Bill Ryan, said.

The Advocate was restricted from attending the meeting, despite requests from the residents.

Present at the meeting was Northern Alliance of Park Residents Association State president, Faye Urquhart, who's concerned the same thing will happen at other parks, including Woolgoolga and Corindi.

“There are 60,000 people living in long-term caravan park accommodation across NSW, and it's a lifestyle that is being threatened,” Mrs Urquhart said.

“When they put restrictions in place, that makes life difficult for pensioners who live this way.

“Permanent residents feel they're not viable, it's only the almighty tourist dollar that matters.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Lands said as long-term sites become available through natural attrition, they will be converted to tourist sites.

“The legislation requires a balance of both tourist uses and long-term residents, and this move is aimed at achieving that balance,” the spokesperson said.

“Most caravan parks, particularly those in coastal areas, are undertaking the process to achieve the required balance.”

Park Beach Holiday Park is licensed for 80 long-term sites while Sawtell Beach Caravan Park is licensed for 52 long-term sites.

The draft plans of management for Park Beach Reserve and Sawtell reserves are now available for public comment. They can be viewed at Coffs Harbour City Council chambers and the offices of Park Beach and Sawtell caravan parks.

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