Canberra’s community councils have long been concerned about the management of concessional leases by successive ACT Governments. Too often we have seen organisations obtain windfall gains by converting their concessional leases to purposes other than those for which they were originally granted. Instead of being available to the community for sporting, social or other community uses, as originally intended, they are converted to residential use, with the profits going to the organisation, rather than the community.
At its recent meeting, Canberra’s Combined Community Councils asked the Government to adopt the following measures to protect the community’s interest in these leases. These include:
· establishing a accessible catalogue of all concessional leases linked to the Territory Plan;
· better and more measurable criteria for determining whether deconcessionalisation of a lease is in the public interest. This should include whether another community group is willing to take over the lease in its current form, thereby preserving the public benefit of the original lease;
· requiring lessees to comply with the terms of their concessional lease;
· providing government support for community and other organisations through transparent grants rather than secretive reduction or waiver of deconcessionalisation fees or lease variation charges.
The planning system should not be used to hide subsidies to football clubs or any other organisations. Once we have lost valuable open and green space in the way described above, it is gone forever.
You can find full details of these proposals here.