Cabin park upgrades on the table

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Park strife: Frankston Council and Seaford Beach Cabin Park owner Michael Hibbert have been in disagreement over the future of the site for the past few years. Pic: Gary Sissons

TALKS between Seaford Beach Cabin Park owner Michael Hibbert and Frankston Council over a new 10-year lease for the site are continuing in the lead-up to a March deadline to agree a deal.

The cabin park houses emergency accommodation for disadvantaged and marginalised residents. Fears residents could face eviction have eased after council agreed to extend the lease on a Crown land portion of the cabin park late last year (‘Compromise on cabin park lease’, The Times 12/1/15).

Mr Hibbert and council are now working their way through conditions imposed by council as part of a lease renewal.

Council wants the cabin park owner to “make improvements to conditions” at the site while keeping any rental rises for residents “to a minimum”.

Cr Glenn Aitken said a meeting last Tuesday was the first of several due to be held before next month.

“There will need to be a specific refinement [to lease terms],” he said.

“All we’ve done so far is look at conditions there without going into detail about what should or must be done.

“[Mr Hibbert] seems to be fairly comfortable with that although he did point out he didn’t want to be faced with a huge bill that he suddenly had to accommodate.”

Cr Aitken said he believed Mr Hibbert made “a large sum of money” from 71 cabins leased at the Seaford site. He said Mr Hibbert did not provide the rental income figures at the meeting.

“I did indicate it would be helpful if we had incoming and outgoing figures for the site to make a comparison to see what he’s putting back into the site if he wanted concessions of any kind,” Cr Aitken said.

A long-mooted land swap deal “will definitely not happen”, according to Cr Aitken.

There had been a suggestion the Crown land portion of the site, 860 square metres of land facing Kananook Creek housing 20 cabins, could have been exchanged with council receiving 675sqm of freehold land facing Nepean Hwy.

Victoria’s department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, formerly the DEPI, approved the land swap but councillors have resisted this proposal, claiming the exchange would make it easier for the site to be developed since the land owned by Mr Hibbert would then be amalgamated.

Council rejected a previous planning application to build 51 units on the site in 2013 but Mr Hibbert said he would sign a covenant banning any building application for at least ten years.

Mr Hibbert told The Times he is “happy to spend some money renovating” the cabin park.

“Cr Aitken seemed to be fairly critical that I haven’t done any improvements in the past two years but I explained I’ve faced eviction so why would I improve it?”.

Mr Hibbert took over the cabin park in 2008.

“Council freely admits since we began running it they don’t have nearly the same amount of complaints or any issues with it.”

Cr Aitken indicated council could extend the March deadline if the new lease details “are not fully resolved” by the end of next month.

First published in the Frankston Times

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