A group of Australian pensioners are fighting to keep their homes at a New South Wales caravan park after a property developer purchased the land six years ago and has since tried to evict them from their houses.
Woronora Village Tourist Park residents Allan Graham, Ray, Alice and Kenny have called the riverside property, which offers campsites and cabins in Sydney's south, their home for 30 years.
The residents all own their homes but lease the land in the flood-prone park.
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However, the park's permanent residents said their peaceful life was turned on its head when the caravan park was sold seven years ago.
"Within six weeks of the new operator functioning in the park, we received eviction notices, claiming that our properties were not viable," Graham told A Current Affair.
The residents took their fight to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and won.
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"All the cases were literally deemed to be spurious and therefore thrown out and overturned and we remained here," Graham said.
Graham claims since then, Wattle Residential Parks – which operates the park – and its director Christian Martin have wanted the residents to sell.
"You've got four people who are coming up on 80 years of age, you've got four people who are on fixed government pensions … they own the house that they call home … if they lose that they've got nothing," Graham claims.
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The operator has now submitted a development application (DA) to Sutherland Shire Council.
It plans to bulldoze the park and build 48 manufactured homes for a land lease for an over-55s village.
In a statement, Martin said he has made two verbal offers to the residents:
1. Purchase their home or relocate them to another park at the operator's expense.
2. In 2021, homeowners were offered a brand new and compliant home in Martin's new estate with shared equity to the value of their current property.
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"There were rather insubstantial offers made, insulting offers made for properties, $2000 for one; $1000 for another," Graham claimed.
Both offers have been rejected.
Almost 50 objections have been submitted to the council about the DA, which means the project will now be assessed by an independent planning panel.
"It doesn't benefit us one bit," Ray said.
Residents say they're now faced with having nowhere to go.
"(I'll) probably live in my car like a lot of other people," Ray said.
"(I'll) put a tent out the front of this caravan park," Alice said.
"I'm not going anywhere," war veteran Kenny said.
But they're not going to give up without a fight.
"It's your home, you've got to fight for it," Graham said.
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