AS families around Frankston prepare for Christmas celebrations and look forward to a new year, some residents at Seaford Beach Cabin Park still face an uncertain future heading into the festive season.
Talks between Frankston Council and park owner Michael Hibbert over a land swap deal to enable 20 cabins to remain on council leased Crown land after March next year have apparently stalled again.
Mr Hibbert said a planned meeting late last month with council and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries was cancelled without explanation.
He said council had also returned his previous quarterly lease payment of $10,000 and declined to give a reason for this when asked.
In April, Frankston Council extended a lease deadline from June this year until March next year for the Crown land section of the cabin park.
There are 79 cabins at the Seaford Beach Cabin Park in total.
Mr Hibbert said the removal of the 20 cabins on Crown land would make the cabin park, which offers low-cost emergency housing, “unviable”.
Frankston deputy mayor Cr Glenn Aitken and crs Rebekah Spelman and Colin Hampton attended a cabin park residents’ meeting last month to hear fears about the threat of eviction (‘Eviction fear looms again at cabin park’, The Times 3/12/14).
At that meeting, Cr Aitken mentioned a 2013 planning application to build two four-storey apartment buildings at the Seaford Beach cabin park site and said there was no guarantee the owner would not try to do this again in future.
Mr Hibbert said he has offered to agree to a covenant restricting development of the site on the corner of the Nepean Highway and McCulloch Avenue if the land swap is agreed.
“I’ve been disappointed that council has portrayed me as a greedy property developer,” Mr Hibbert said.
“I haven’t increased rent for tenants for three years despite council rates going up.”
The 66-year-old said it is unlikely he would try to redevelop the site in ten years’ time due to his age.
The DEPI has agreed to a land swap of 860 square metres of Crown land facing Kananook Creek in exchange for council receiving 675sqm of freehold land facing Nepean Hwy.
Council plans to build a car park for area visitors on the Crown land currently housing the 20 cabins.
Mr Hibbert said he will no back the land swap while council insists the cabin park be shut down as a condition of the deal.
Council has previously criticised Mr Hibbert, alleging a lack of cooperation in handing over contact details for the residents of the 20 cabins who could face eviction to help affected families find new accommodation.