Temporary reprieve for pondage van park

Latrobe City Council has suspended the transition of Hazelwood Pondage Caravan Park into a day trip facility to further investigate other options for the site into the future.

It comes after council said it was unable to negotiate a five-year lease with park land owners, ENGIE, and deemed additional investment into the site an “ineffective use of ratepayer funds”.

However, a community petition to counter the decision, launched by the Yinnar & District Community Association and a group of site-holders, gained 537 physical signatories, with an additional 298 online signatories.

Councillors voted on Monday night to form a working group to explore potential operating options for the facility and “undertake further engagement with key stakeholders”.

The transition date of the caravan park to a day trip/short-stay facility will be held off until September 30 to allow time for the working group to compile its report.

Previously, site-holders had until late June to vacate their sites.

Cr Ian McFarlane told the council meeting on Monday night that councillors had met with a number of stakeholders since the petition was tabled, resulting in “very constructive” discussions.

“I am confident over the next month or two we will be in a position to reconsider the matter to the fullest,” he said.

Yinnar & District Community Association president Herb Smith was instrumental in the petition and said it was really good to see “some sort of progress”.

“The YDCA will be chasing it through with [site-owner] ENGIE for an extension of the lease,” he said.

Mr Smith previously told The Express he wasn’t convinced the transition of the park to a short-stay facility would support the local economy as well as the current situation.

Site-holder Kaylene Price said a number of site-holders had met with four councillors last week to discuss ways to make the caravan park more viable and sustainable into the future by reducing costs and increasing income.

“I think amenities, [such as] getting rid of the waste is one of the biggest costs,” she said.