Buying a little more time

March 21, 2018

Visitors enjoy a leisurely walk at Shepparton's Victoria Park Lake Holiday Park.

The decision to extend the management contract for another year on Shepparton’s Victoria Park Lake Holiday Park makes sense as an interim measure.

While plans for the new Shepparton Art Museum are bedded down and made clear, it seems appropriate to offer residents and management of the holiday park some measure of certainty, if only for 12 months.

The holiday park is, of course, the elephant in the room when it comes to the new SAM site.

Does it factor into landscaping plans for the new museum?

If so, how will it be affected?

Will the existing amenities remain or be altered to accommodate the new building and surrounds?

Given plans for the new SAM include a requirement for four-star accommodation, a holiday park would clearly not meet these standards.

So there are some tough decisions to be made about the park’s future and the requirements of the new SAM.

As the park is on Crown land, with the site administered by Greater Shepparton City Council on an annual contract basis, it would be within the jurisdiction of the council to either continue or end the contract with the site’s operators.

However, the council clearly cannot afford to build and operate four-star accommodation.

Late last year The News reported the council had gone to tender for the management of the holiday park for the next year, while it tried to secure a long-term developer and lease arrangement for the site.

At the time, the council believed a 21-year lease was insufficient and a 40-year lease was desired to encourage long-term investors.

The Victorian Government has not agreed to a longer lease.

So now, the council has signed off for another year with Australian Tourist Park Management meaning more time has been bought.

But a decision is looming.

The holiday park has been a popular tourist destination for hundreds of families for many years and has become a long-lived tourist landmark at the southern end of the lake.

However, with changing times come changing requirements, and a caravan park with chalet cabins clearly does not fit the accommodation bill for a new, cutting-edge $40million building.

The investment required to bring the site up to an appropriate accommodation standard would be significant — possibly several million dollars — and beyond ratepayer responsibility.

Whatever type of accommodation is finally decided on, we hope affordable family holidays are not entirely lost in the mix.

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