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Coffs Harbour Airport might now be leased to private operator.

Coffs Harbour City Council is reported to have voted to move to the binding bids stage to select an experienced operator for a long-term airport lease at Thursday night’s Council meeting.

Councillors considered an evaluation report on non-binding bids received for the proposed airport lease submitted as part of an expressions of interest process which commenced earlier in the year.

The council’s Director of Business Services, Andrew Beswick, said the lease model, which has been adopted by more than 24 capital city and regional airports across Australia to to varying degrees of success, would nurture “positive change and a phase of growth for Coffs Harbour Airport and the entire community”.

Mr Beswick argued  a long-term lease arrangement would  bring new skills and operating experience to Coffs Harbour Airport and would potentially  increase visitor numbers and possibly speed up progress on the enterprise park while also moving ahead with international and freight opportunities.

An artist’s impression of what the Coffs Harbour Airport Enterprise Park could possibly look like.

The airport is currently managed by a contractor with daily operations assumed by Council. Mr Beswick said leasing the airport would not only offer better prospects for the airport but would also remove Council from any legislative, regulatory or operational risks.

Interestingly evidence given to the Productivity Commission recently by Airlines for Australia and New Zealand on monopolising private ownership/management of airports was not mentioned by Mr Beswick or Council last night.  Here is what they had to say in May 2018;

“Monopoly infrastructure operators have the ability to raise prices above a level that would prevail in competitive markets and have little incentive to improve services above a minimum standard of service quality, to the detriment of economic efficiency and the living standards of consumers.” (Emphasis added by Outlook)

Where the Enterprise Park is planned to go.

Mr Beswick argued the successful lease holder would give the city access to proven airport management expertise and also bring in new investment to make the airport a greater success. “It will also potentially see freight and international opportunities progress quicker than what would have been possible under council management” Mr Beswick said.

Due to ‘commercial in confidence sensitivities’, at this stage, details of the interested bidders must remain confidential and private.

A report on the outcome of the binding bids stage is to be brought back to Council for consideration once completed.

Mr Beswick promised that as part of Council’s due diligence procedures, Council will guarantee the binding bids will be evaluated on a set of benchmark criteria which will include any benefits that the sale/lease would bring to the community both in the immediate now and long term future.

22 Comments

  1. What a splendid vision of our future infrastructure on Hogbin Drive is presented. A fantastic image! Our CBD is extending eastward, with exciting potential
    City Hill overlooks this vista. Will this not enhance the magnificent possibility that we may yet develop our Cultural Precinct on City Hill? Council has exciting expansionist plans for the airport, creating new opportunities. Surely this brings City Hill into focus; unless of course – they want to divert 7.7 hectares of Government gifted land (well $200K – ‘peanuts’) for another undeclared agenda?

  2. Ex Cr Nan Cowling you got ridiculed by her fellow Councillors at times .Mayor Denise Knight was always trying to silence or threaten and intimidate ex Cr Nan Cowling.
    Let’s go back in history and see how far we have evolved.

    1.https://m.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/news/gm-rethinks-gm-gets-caught-in-his-own-shake-up/2368956/

    2.https://m.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/news/council-briefs-annual-report-cowling/2471693/

    3. https://m.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/news/councillors-to-vote-on-cowlings-appointment/2364713/

    Is this GM Steve McGrath worth his Massive Salary that he is being paid ? Its time for the LGA electorate to decide this .
    Mayor Denise Knight kept banging on last night about probity and confidentiality surrounding this Airport lease. Yes the Secrets , the secrets continue with this dysfunctional CHCC mob.
    If it’s a 99 year lease that’s a very long time !!!

  3. What a shame that this magnificent and valuable piece of prime realestate overlooking the ocean, is destined to forever be an industrial estate when progressive cities all around the world are moving industrial estates, airports, freight terminals and such like, away from city centres to more appropriate locations on city outskirts. We need look no further than Badgerys Creek. But Coffs Harbour is not exactly renown for its exemplary town planning and such shortsightedness will always be the outcome when councils are compromised and influenced by vested interest groups.

    • CLB
      What you’re missing here is Coffs Harbour very little land surrounding it suitable for this usage. We are bounded by mountains.

      I have been to the airport a few times. From my recollection it does Not over look the ocean. If anything it sits under the ocean level and behind an enormous tree line and dunes.

      Airport lands are commonly used for storage facilities,hotels,industrial estates,car yards retail,bulky goods and supermarkets. Look at Brisbane airport for starters.
      Essendon airport is the best example of this in Australia.

      • You need to get out more and do some exploring ‘Town Planner’.
        There are many suitable tracts of level land in the LGA suitable for an expanded international airport/freight terminal, along with those land uses you have painstakingly plucked out of some ‘idiots guide to town planning’ – but probably not within a five minute drive from your front door.

        For a declared town planner you don’t display much imagination. But then again, it might well be your profession and you work for CHCC. I suggest you will get a view of the ocean next time you visit the airport if you take a very tall ladder. Hint: take one about the same height as a multi-level building, such as those proposed to be built along Jordan Esplanade and you may well see the ocean sitting behind the sand dunes and trees.

        Unfortunately there is no cure for myopia Town Planner, but there is an old adage that applies here:- “You can’t see the forest for the trees”, or more aptly in your case:- ‘you can’t see the ocean when you have your head in the sand’.

        And if the airport, sewerage works and railway are BELOW sea level, I think we all might have realised by now! Merry Xmas!

        • Once again.. the land does not overlook the ocean.
          Let us know where the land that’s zoned within five minutes?

          • Short-sighted, unimaginative, as well as bordering on illiterate…hmmm…you just might hold a senior management position in town planning.

            • Town Planner

              You still have not said where your vast tracks of land are??

              Criticism is not a substitute for a answer.

              Please answer the question.

              • Town Planner, aka The Investigator, aka Skinny, you continually respond to people’s comments without first carefully reading what they have actually written. If you did you may already have the answer to your question. So I suggest you re-read my previous comments with your brain in gear before I suggest where you might find ‘vast tracks’ (sic) of wasted space.

        • Graeme Sheehan

          I concur with what you’re saying CLB. It’s a pity others can’t grasp this vision. Other than a few properties along the beachfront, the ocean cannot be seen from most residential areas in Sawtell, but it’s hailed as the “Jewel in the Crown” and property prices have skyrocketed there in recent years.

          Given the relatively narrow corridor of land upon which Coffs Harbour is built, there is very limited coastal land suitable for residential purposes that is not designated as national park. Council should be looking to community needs fifty years in advance to stem the adhoc planning practices of yesteryear that are far too commonly seen around Coffs Harbour. The most prominent being the dissection of the city by the busy Pacific Highway which has led to a poorly designed and stagnating city centre, a problem council is presently aiming to rectify with unfortunately, more bad planning.

          Another is the north coast railway line which has rendered large swathes of land virtually unusable and the location of the airport and sewerage treatment works, which was probably a good site for them sixty or seventy years ago when they were on the outskirts of the then small township of Coffs Harbour, but are now located in the centre of a fast-growing metropolis.

          Accordingly, it is vital that council takes a step back from making any rash decisions to lease the airport without thorough examination of the long-term planning ramifications on the city’s future. This includes future requirements for residential, commercial and industrial infrastructure together with sustainable transport links that fulfil community needs through to the end of this century. To do otherwise will just perpetuate more bad planning and wasted opportunity for future generations to deal with.

  4. It was interesting and amusing in hearing the VERY LOUD MINORITY GROUP of Ms Heather Mcknnons BE BRAVE group cheering and applauding at Thursday evening marathon Council meeting. It’s seems Ms Heather McKinnon and Mayor Denise Knight rallied the troops after receiving such bad reviews with their performances on You Tube and at the last Council Meeting.
    I have read comments on Citizens Voice Coffs Coast Facebook page that there were a couple of dignitaries from Parliament in the Audience at the meeting.
    Could somebody confirm whether this be fact or rumour please?
    If it is true I now understand why the Be Brave Supporters were at the meeting.
    As for the airport lease … 99 years is a very long time… if the rumour is correct!

    Utopia writers and produders at ABC need to visit Coffs for another series.

  5. Dignitaries = a person considered to be important because of high rank or office.

    That must mean the Mayor & Adendorff & Cecato are Dignitaries
    Bugger me who would have guessed.

    • Talking of the Ex President of the Chamber of Commerce Cr George Cecato and Cr Michael Adenorff who is the current Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce.I feel they love holding power and are working for the Chamber of Commerce & C.EX Club on CCCC project.
      I believe the Secret Deals have been done behind closed doors as CHCC has always operated in this way.
      These Councillors are like Super Glue getting this CCCC project done and dusted in such a hurry. They will jump ship once its done. It’s a power play.
      Cr George Cecato does not say a lot in Council meetings. Here is an interview Cr George Cecato which I found interesting.

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fGIPeRRVed4

  6. Let’s look back in history. Read the comments on each article.

    Ex Councilor Nan Councillor called it for what it was. Unfortunately Mayor Denise Knight , GM Steve McGrath and other councillors at the time gave Nan Cowling a rough time for being outspoken and wanting total transparency.

    1. https://m.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/news/gm-rethinks-gm-gets-caught-in-his-own-shake-up/2368956/

    2. https://m.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/news/council-briefs-annual-report-cowling/2471693/

    3.https://m.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/news/councillors-to-vote-on-cowlings-appointment/2364713/

    4. https://m.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/news/councillors-raise-concerns-about-caucus/1890530/

    These “voting blocs and alliances” in CHCC have been going on for years and years ! A total disgrace in Democracy.

  7. The airport precinct is one to watch very, very carefully. From an economic perspective, “if the airport and business enterprise are to be leased”, 99-year leasehold makes it attractive proposition for an investor. But, beware the “peppercorn lease”. As to whether these spaces should be leased or whether the Council should adopt the Ballina (BUSINESS UNIT model) or highly successful Auckland Airport model is a question that should not only be asked, it is a matter that should be investigated in order to determine the best outcome for the people. The airport in SINGAPORE (best in the world) is managed by a BUSINESS UNIT inside the Government. Sydney airport was privatised. Sydney International airport is an absolute disgrace. A critic of my presentation to Council at last week’s meeting inferred I have some sort of “vested interest”. That is DEFINITELY NOT THE CASE and critics should check their facts before they go defaming people. The critic was referring, of course, for my company’s plans for a hotel in the Business Enterprise Park. Frankly, I remain at a complete loss to understand why our plans and proposals were ROAD BLOCKED. Surely when a party is successful in a publicly advertised Expression of Interest and they spend an enormous amount of time, energy, effort and money in an attempt to bring something truly wonderful to this City; including a corporation with 120 loyalty members worldwide; the least the Council could do would be to give us a hearing? But Mr Beswick who, apparently, or so we are led to believe, heads up the Business Enterprise sector has said, “No”. I can only speculate as to why Mr Beswick has denied us the opportunity to present our proposals. He argues, we were not prepared to meet the terms. I would argue the terms were ridiculous terms; the terms were specifically crafted so as to make the project “Commercially unviable”. No investor would invest in a project on a return of 1%! I don’t think Council understands how hard it is to bring BIG MONEY into regional centres. It is interesting indeed that Airport Management told me to take my plans to CITY HILL. That’s how I came to enquire on the history of CITY HILL and, having done so, it is my opinion that, if the wider community got to see and hear our plans in detail; our VISION for this City; how we propose to create employment and generate revenue so as to lift the burden OFF THE SHOULDERS OF RATEPAYERS & RESIDENTS; then more and more people within the wider community would question the rationale behind pressing post haste with the Gordon Street proposals. The ONLY WAY that these current proposals can lift the tone of the CBD and benefit the people is for Council to go back to the drawing board. Remove the Civic Centre component and, in lieu, plan the redevelopment of the existing Chambers. Then acquire the properties to the north to expand the Gordon site to cater for visitor parking and solve the critical traffic issues raised by RMS. AND, possibly, INCORPORATE NEW PREMISES FOR THE UNITING CHURCH & SALVATION ARMY. This change in direction would enable Council to retain existing publicly-owned assets to generate much-needed revenue for essential services; like fixing pot holes, cracked walkways, kerb and guttering and so on. It would also provide Councillors/Executive and Staff with well-equipped facilities in the existing location at far less cost to ratepayers and residents (THE AFFORDABLE OPTION). Then a brand, spanking new art gallery, museum and rehearsal studios could be built on the Gordon Street site with the benefit of Government Grants available for cultural purposes. I remain, however, unconvinced that this is the best option for this City. GREAT CITIES have “defined thresholds/gateways”. The Federal Government identified CITY HILL as the best option for the creation of a “defined threshold” in 1988 and sold the parcel to the Council for $200,000-00. The sale came with a RESTRICTION ON USER. Visual from the air, accessible in all directions, ample at-grade parking for vehicles, tourist buses, emergency vehicles, disabled parking, overlooking one of the best golf courses in the state of New South Wales, adjoining the National Cartoon Bunker and a stone’s throw from the airport, Southern Cross University, International Sports Stadium and CBD, CITY HILL is the best location for a Performing Arts centre of excellence, Art Gallery, Museum and Hospitality precinct which can be developed via a Public/Private Partnership. The fact that CITY HILL was considered some 30 years ago is not a reason to pull out the archive boxes and take a look BUT THE CURRENT EXECUTIVE HAS NOT INVESTIGATED THE ALTERNATIVES. WHY NOT? Airport Management obviously thought they should as I was provided with an introduction to a Council Officer for the specific purpose of discussing the development of CITY HILL. Curiously, the officer spent the entirety of the meeting endeavouring to sell me on the Gordon Street proposals and appeared to know absolutely nothing about any other major development plans in the neighbourhood. Janne C Lindrum

    • Dr Janne C Lindrum you always make sense. You are a true Visionary . You have continually given an invitation to the ” Power Makers” of our to City to debate them in a public forum regarding the CCCC .
      I have not read anywhere of these ” So called Leaders”
      of the LGA accepting your invitation.
      What I have observed the GM, Andrew Beswick, Council Executives Councillors ,Mayor Denise Knight like to shut you down. These so called Power Payers are intimidated or threatened by you I feel Dr Lindrum. Otherwise why have they not taken your offer of a Public Debate !
      We the LGA ratepayers/residents would very much welcome this Public Debate in an open forum .Never in history has this LGA been so outraged, angry , divided with our present City Leaders in the way they are conducting themselves over the CCCC and now this Airport Lease.

  8. Dear Janne

    Exactly what are council doing with the airport land.Are they selling or leasing it?

  9. The only interest any leesee would have ..would be to make a profit…(thats fine) but.. if the operation can generate profit… why not keep it in (capable public hands) so the profit generated..goes back into to community…?

  10. The only interest any leesee would have ..would be to make a profit…(thats fine) but.. if the operation can generate profit… why not keep it in (capable public hands) so the profit generated..goes back into to community…?… ref The airport in SINGAPORE (best in the world) is managed by a BUSINESS UNIT inside the Government. Sydney airport was privatised. Sydney International airport is an absolute disgrace. 

  11. Eureka ,I have the solution for the airport infrastructure land .There has been land for sale on the otherside of Hogbin Drive for years.Instead of an aqua culture project its the ideal land, only scrappy paperbarks there. Granted it may have drainage issues and acid sulphate soils but that is no obstacle.As Trumps mantra is “Drain the swamps”.The Florida Everglades could be the role model ,admittedly there have been major environmental issues when they drained their swamps.I am confident our engineers will tackle the problem.

  12. Warren Sankey

    After listening to speakers both for and against the motion put forward by Cr Rhoades at the last council meeting, to have civil engineers provide certification and costings to add an additional level to the current council admin. building, it is patently clear that the speakers in favour of the motion won the debate hands down. Both speakers, Steve Gooley and Janne Lindrum, clearly articulated the financial and community benefits of proceeding down this path. Mr Gooley, a land developer, also highlighted that an engineer’s certificate would not only confirm that additional floor(s) could be added to the existing structure, but also that such certification would increase the building’s value substantially should it be sold. He also questioned council officer’s unsupported estimate of $1 million for the same certification and costings to be carried out which he estimated would cost no more than $150,000. But once again councillors vote was tied 4:4 and the motion was defeated with the mayor exercising a casting vote. Why? The only plausible reason is the mayor and her cohort do not want it proven that the $1 million quote for certification and costing to be undertaken was simply a figure plucked out of the air by council staff and presented to the community, just like so many other flawed claims since the CCCC proposal was announced.

    I also recommend people listen to the 28 November council meeting on councils website ‘soundcloud’ to hear Cr Townley’s attempt to mislead councillors and those in the gallery in regards to NSW Government grant funding for the CCCC proposal which Gurmesh Singh has categorically ruled out because of the council chambers/admin offices component in the development.

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