A Lithgow business is in the process of negotiating with Lithgow City Council to purchase 16.8 hectares of vacant Wallerawang land for the purpose of building a private school.
Council agreed at its September 25 meeting to begin direct negotiations with the company, Timberfix Pty Ltd, to sell the Barton Avenue land for $1.1m. Council would wait for the company to formally take up that offer before the purchase process began, council’s strategic land use planner Sherilyn Hanrahan said.
The parcel is part of a larger lot, with council retaining ownership of about 44 hectares, which will be available for possible future subdivision.
Details of who will operate the private school have not been released at this stage, but council publicly welcomed the move, stating that “the transaction has great potential economic benefit for the Wallerawang community”.
Timberfix Pty Ltd director Wayne Clark said the hardware company, which has been based in Lithgow since 2003 and has previously developed industrial land at Wallerawang, had been looking for a suitable parcel of land for a school development for at least six months. A meeting with council led to the land being identified.
“We expect it will be a lengthy process, as it will still need to be subdivided and we will need to do our due diligence as well,” he said.
Constraints on the land, including overhead transmission lines and the steepness of the block, would require careful development planning. Mr Clark said it was likely the development would take place in stages.
Mr Clark said he was very positive about the move, which he said was “very exciting, very positive for the people of Wallerawang”.
“Right now, we are on step one of about 100 steps to come,” he said.
“There is no time frame – it could take a long time for this to happen.
“It will be a very expensive and a very lengthy exercise.”
Land not used to build the school grounds could be developed into homes, subject to approval.
Mrs Hanrahan said the school and any other associated development would have to go through council’s normal approval process.
It will be a complex negotiation process, as part of the land included in the sale proposal is currently being used by Wallerawang Public School as a soccer ground and is tied into a 20 year lease with the Department of Education.
Access which had been granted to a separate private home across the land would also have to be considered, Mrs Hanrahan said.
Council has defended the price of the sale of land, following the wide circulation of an email from advocacy group Lithgow Ratepayers, which argued the lot could have realised a future value of up to $3m-$4.5m.
“The company made an offer and we had an independent market valuation undertaken,” Mrs Hanrahan said.
“The price that council resolved to offer at that meeting meets the market value.”
In the resolution passed at council’s September 25 meeting, Timberfix Pty Ltd will also meet all associated subdivision and legal costs.