Heat on Hazelwood House

Fallen through: The selling of Hazelwood House, Churchill has failed after Quantum backed out of a deal. File photograph



THE Gaskin Park redevelopment plans in Churchill will have to wait, after the sale of Hazelwood House fell through.

Quantum Support Services notified Latrobe City Council of its decision to withdraw from the purchase.

Proceeds of the sale deal were promised to be used to redevelop the local recreational space in Gaskin Park.

The property, located at 59-91 Philip Parade, Churchill, was unanimously approved for sale to Quantum Support Services by Latrobe City Council during its September 2022 meeting, following an extensive expression of interest process initiated in 2021.

Latrobe City Chief Executive, Steven Piasente, said Quantum advised council of its decision in late September, not even a month after approving the sale.

“Latrobe City Council has worked in collaboration with Quantum to support the organisation throughout the sale process,” Mr Piasente said.

Quantum Support Services Chief Executive, Natalie McDonald said despite discussions with potential partners, the timelines for realising these partnerships and completing the necessary due diligence and funding arrangements remained uncertain.

“This uncertainty poses challenges for our ability to move forward with the project,” Ms McDonald said.

“Hazelwood House presented a unique opportunity to provide a safe and supportive environment for youth in our community. Quantum expresses its sincere gratitude to Latrobe City Council for the opportunity to explore the possibility of bringing a youth foyer to Churchill.”

The next steps for Hazelwood House will be the subject of discussion and consideration by Latrobe City Council.

Hazelwood House sits on 3.9 hectares and was developed by the community to provide an opportunity for local people to receive aged care within Churchill. It operated until late 2019 as a residential aged care facility, at which time its size and age rendered it unviable.

Council agreed to buy the site in April 2020, and remove the covenants that restricted the site to aged care and retirement purposes.

The failed sale of Hazelwood House is expected to have some repercussions for the local community.

Council proposed to allocate the sale proceeds in Churchill and the district as a way of acknowledging the local contribution to the establishment of the House.

Now that the deal has fallen through, many community groups and clubs will go without their much-needed funding.

The Latrobe Valley Express spoke with Churchill Football Netball Club President, Mark Answerth.

The Cougars were among many clubs that would have benefited from the selling of Hazelwood House.

“Every time we get close to securing funds, something else gets priority, ” Mr Answerth said.

“There has been a (Gaskin Park) master plan on the table for well over a decade … council have endorsed the master plan but haven’t had the funds.

“A couple years ago we were advised that the sale of Hazelwood House was on the table and the proceeds of that – up to 90 per cent would go towards the Gaskin Park redevelopment plan.

“That’s been dragged on – we knew there was a purchaser (for Hazelwood House), but then we were completely left in the dark, not knowing what happened with it.”

The club was only recently notified that the sale deal had fallen through, but was assured by council officers that council remained committed to finding funding even if that meant from elsewhere.

The Gaskin Park master plan seeks to consolidate the presence of Gaskin Park within this green ribbon of open space by developing it into a critical regional sporting precinct.

Money from the selling of Hazelwood House would have facilitated new changerooms and continued surface upgrades on Gaskin Park Oval 1 and 2.

“We’re frustrated that it’s taking so long and every time we get really close there’s another hurdle there,” Mr Answerth said.

“It’s really frustrating that we get that next step and then get pushed back a couple more steps.”

Mr Answerth predicts Gaskin Park won’t get new changeroom facilities until 2026 .