Robert Schofield in his Cinderella Dve backyard which borders Springwood Park. PHOTO: JUDITH KERR
Robert Schofield in his Cinderella Dve backyard which borders Springwood Park. PHOTO: JUDITH KERR

Family’s 10-year land resumption hell

A LOGAN family, whose Springwood home is in the path of a council-planned town centre, has launched an impassioned plea to resolve a 10-year battle over the sale of their land.

Springwood property owner Susan McPherson and her partner Robert Schocroft said their family had been left in limbo for 10 years waiting for Logan City Council to act on its intentions and buy their Cinderella Dve property.

This month, they asked new administrator Tamara O'Shea to end their nightmare.

They hope a decision on their land will be made on Thursday.

The council said it would not comment as dealings with the property owner were "ongoing and confidential".

Logan council has wanted to buy the property since 2009 when it announced the Greater Springwood Master Plan.

Over the years, more than seven attempts to sell the block by negotiation have fallen through.

The matter was the subject of a Crime and Corruption Commission investigation last year, which found the council's actions did not amount to corrupt conduct.

However, a letter from the CCC urged the family to take the issue to the Queensland Ombudsman "as your concerns may relate to possible maladministration".

Mr Schocroft said the family's nightmare started when council said it wanted to extend the popular Springwood Park, which borders the property.

 

Springwood Park, on Cinderella Dve, Springwood borders the family’s property.
Springwood Park, on Cinderella Dve, Springwood borders the family’s property.

Three houses, including theirs, were earmarked for a carpark.

The master plan focused on creating a commercial and community town centre which would include 15-storey buildings, widening Cinderella Dve to four lanes, a bus terminal and an arts centre.

But Mr Schocroft said negotiations kept falling through as council officers continually offered below-market prices for his home which is on an 809sq m block.

He said after council adopted the Springwood Plan in November 2009, it wrote to residents to say it would be buying between 35 and 110 properties by 2013.

"We held our first informal discussion with council in 2010 but the talks fell through when they indicated they would only pay $450,000, when the replacement value of the property at the time was $700,000," Mr Schocroft said.

"A few months earlier, the elderly couple next door had sold their property to council for $450,000.

"We got legal advice that said that offer was under market value."

 

A property next door to the family’s Cinderella Dve house was sold for $450,000.
A property next door to the family’s Cinderella Dve house was sold for $450,000.

 

Mr Schocroft said the council only wanted a "sale by negotiation" and not to acquire the land by resumption.

He said calls to council officers to discuss the matter were not returned and in 2011 the family stopped paying rates until the matter was dealt with.

The council recouped the rates with interest and negotiations continued in 2013.

 

 

 

An excerpt from the 2009 Greater Springwood Master Plan which shows the plans to buy four residential sites on Cinderella Dve,
An excerpt from the 2009 Greater Springwood Master Plan which shows the plans to buy four residential sites on Cinderella Dve,

 

 

Then, in 2015, the Logan council rezoned the property to park land, making it virtually unsaleable.

"The zoning changed from R250 Medium Density to ROS Recreational Open Space which meant any buyer would not be able to do anything with the land," Mr Schocroft said.

Negotiations with the council started again in July 2016.

Mr Schocroft said he rejected an offer of $600,000 which was then raised to $625,000.

"We rejected that too, knowing that the true market value of the land was more than $950,000 and up to $1.2 million," he said.

Springwood Master Plan which shows designs for an art gallery, busway and the extension to Springwood Park.
Springwood Master Plan which shows designs for an art gallery, busway and the extension to Springwood Park.

 

Last June, the family submitted two of its own offers which were rejected.

The council then conducted a fourth land valuation and submitted its final offer of $700,000, which equated to $865/sq m.

Mr Schocroft said between January 2018 and March 2018 five development sites on Cinderella Drive were sold at an average of $1429/sq m.

According to CoreLogic data, there have been 56 sales of detached houses on blocks sized between 700sqm and 900sqm in Springwood since January 2018 at an average rate per square metre of $715.

On that basis, the property's estimated value would be $578,000.

However, properties which have traded along Cinderella Dve are at a premium to the broader Springwood market.

There have been three sales of detached houses on blocks sized between 800sqm and 900sqm recorded since August 2017, with an average rate per square metre of $980.

On that basis, the property's estimated value would be $792,000.

In March 2018, two amalgamated properties at 40 (759sqm) and 42 Cinderella Drive (768sqm) with a total land area of 1528sqm sold for $2.5 million, equating to a rate per square metre of $1636.

A development approval for 18 units plus food and drink outlet or office or shop was granted in February 2017 on 40 Cinderella Dve.

A development approval for a boundary realignment, 36 units, food and drink outlook, office and shop was granted in May 2016.

On that basis, the property's estimated value as a development site would be $1,323,000.

Logan City Council owns 10 properties on Cinderella Drive, including one which is 26,010sqm of parkland.

The last recorded purchase by council was of 75 Cinderella Drive (746sqm) in May 2017 for $500,000.

Logan City Council owns 39 properties in Springwood.

 

An artist’s impression of a future Springwood.
An artist’s impression of a future Springwood.

 

Mr Schocroft said the health of his wife, Sue McPherson, had been affected from what had started out as a simple property transaction.

"We're willing to sell, council is willing to buy but they tried to rip us off," he said.

"They've repeatedly done everything to hide this from public scrutiny including sealing the council file and avoiding any action required to resolve the situation such as land resumption.

"They've failed in their duty of care to us and to the community as projects in Springwood have been delayed."

The matter is before acting CEO Silvio Trinca, who has been asked to consider compulsory resumption.

However, Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said resolving the land sale was now the sole responsibility of Logan administrator Ms O'Shea and he had forwarded details to her.

The family said if Mr Trinca refused compulsory acquisition, the matter should be sent to next week's Treasury committee meeting for Ms O'Shea to rule on.



BEFORE AND AFTER: Photos reveal Nymboida bushfire devastation

premium_icon BEFORE AND AFTER: Photos reveal Nymboida bushfire...

Stunning photos reveal extent of some of the damage to the village following recent...

Grafton businesses elect one in the chamber

premium_icon Grafton businesses elect one in the chamber

New leader confirmed and sets out agenda with “fresh focus” on engagement

Released Taliban prisoner’s link to Grafton centenarian

premium_icon Released Taliban prisoner’s link to Grafton centenarian

Australian man held in Afghanistan has deep links to Clarence Valley