An annonymous comment on the website of The Manning Community News has drawn this rebuttal from reader Bill Richardson. 

Original comment –

Author: Andrew D Comment:
Let’s start with some basics – I holiday in Hallidays Point and surrounds and very much enjoy the tranquillity and the community including its amenities and people. I have done so for over 15 years and my 3 adult children often do the same with my grand kids as a matter of tradition/habit. I personally wish to build a holiday home in the area for my children to enjoy in the future also (coincidentally in a new sub-division)… I am NOT a developer or a builder, but very much familiar with the industry, planning instruments, and a modest share holding in the industry along with other sectors… I’m 58 years of age and reside in Newcastle.  BUT – This one sided article written by an unnamed author is inaccurate in so many ways.” 

Says Bill Richardson – “The comments by Andrew D are inaccurate in so many key points (he, who wants also to remain anonymous himself)! So I shall address some of his points –

“Central Village residents do pay $300,000 for a minimum quality house, where they don’t get any land and they have to pay as much as $11,232 per annum in rent per site, for the land on which their house sits.

“The resubmitted application is virtually identical to the original application by Gateway. It uses the same plans with only tiny changes and this time, it has been made by the owners of the site. Unless Andrew D is in league with the owners or is a physic, he can’t possibly know if Gateway/Hometown has any involvement. I do know however, that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck……..there’s at least a chance that it might be a Gateway/Hometown duck!  
“It is a complete nonsense to say that FoodWorks or the Tavern at Hallidays Point have any possibility of closing. Both are highly successful businesses without a Manufactured Home Estate at Tallwoods.  Sure, they would get some more business if another 202 dwellings are jammed into Hallidays Point, but to say that they might fail, only proves how little the author of this critical article knows about the facts, or he is naive beyond reason. 

“Andrew D needs to get his facts straight.  The facts are, that whoever is the operator of the MHE, will pay just one rate (as if there was just one dwelling) at the Unimproved Capital Value of the land (the UCV) for 202 users of sewer and water.  In the previous application for the same number of dwellings, council staff recommended that council charge not one penny extra for the use of all these additional users of sewer and water; the only ‘extra’ was that they had to pay for actual water usage.  In fact, the developer (had the application been successful) would have been undercharged by $761,000!  Why?  Because the application was assessed as being for all 2 bedroom dwellings rather than for 3 bedroom dwellings, a difference of $761,000 in the charge for Section 94 (the parks, gardens and libraries assessment).  

Andrew D has a lot to still learn about the real world of council approvals. The difference in water and sewer rates would have resulted in a saving of over $500,000 every year (forever) by the MHE developer; this is a major reason why MHE’s are such a bonanza development!

“Andrew D must believe in ‘fairies at the bottom of the garden’ to suggest that these MHE’s are for “Gentle, retired, respectful age group looking to take a slower approach on life……”.  MHE’s (in NSW) are designed to move people from ‘marginal’ seats in Sydney (the unemployed and Labor voters on pensions) to areas where housing land is cheaper than in Sydney.  The governments’ own rules (State Environmental Planning Policy; SEPP 36) says that these MUST be located where there is adequate public transport, medical and shopping facilities for this “Gentle, retired, respectful age group”, yet the site at Tallwoods is three kilometres from these facilities, with no public transport  or taxi service.

I suppose we might be able to keep the numbers down by forcing them to walk the three kilometres along Blackhead Road to get to these essential services (as there is no footpath to walk on or ride their wheelchair).

Andrew D might also note that a large percentage of this “Gentle, retired, respectful age group”  are on a Federal Government housing subsidy of some $80 per week, as they are so impoverished as to need subsidising.  The community at large appears not to be against MHE’s, but they want them properly located, with proper facilities and transport available, particularly for those who don’t have a car, or are aged and can’t drive.      

 “MHE’s don’t have exit fees because the dwelling owner never owns the land; they just pay a weekly rental of some $216   (with their Federal Government housing subsidy of some $80 per week) to get to pay $300,000 for a three bedroom dwelling that is of a lower standard than Housing Commission homes. Andrew D might investigate how easily (or hard) it can be to sell one of these dwellings, when the land is not included and the ‘operator’ can ask any weekly rent he wants for the land usage. I would suggest that numerous of those who do sell up (because the dream turns out to be not what they want), end up selling back to the operator (and I’m told, at less than what they paid).  MHE’s are a product of a loophole in the law, that allows supposedly cheap housing to exist, without paying the normal rates applicable to dwellings!

“Andrew D seems to have gotten his arguments a bit mixed up; on the one hand he says that these MHE’s are for the “Gentle, retired, respectful age group”, yet he advocates plonking ‘Seniors’ where there are no facilities at all. He certainly has solved the problem of having them occupy land on Sydney’s Northern beaches, where the infrastructure is already overloaded to a point where they allow huge high rise accommodation for high paying people, but can’t find room for his “Gentle, retired, respectful age group.   

“Andrew D needs to check his facts before charging into print.

The vast majority are not against development in this region. It’s where and how, considering the financial cost to Council (ie ratepayers)  as monies go to the developer, not the Council, plus respecting the environmental and aesthetic impact, and of course the impact on wildlife, especially as the area is a Koala corridor. 

The reality is, that these houses cost Gateway (or their clone), less than $150,000 each (erected on the site). These dwellings only cost Gateway about $100k to build in the factory. Gateway’s Annual Report to shareholders shows that they makes $100k net profit from every dwelling they sell. When ‘owners’ want to exit, how much do you think Gateway will offer them for their second hand dwelling on Gateway’s site? It’s apparently around $100,k (as Gateway can have their own new one for $150k), …………..so what then happens?

What happens is apparently, that the owners have only the option, and that is to sell to an ‘outside’ buyer (and guess what), the rent (which was sold as not having any contract, “so you can sell at any time to anyone with no exit fees”) suddenly went up for any inquiring potential buyer!

What a sham that is!  Well, maybe we could sell to Gateway for $200k less than we paid?”

Disclaimer: Bill Richardson was involved in the original development of the Tallwoods Estate. 

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