Riverine Herald

Leasing policy secures future of port buildings

By Charmayne Allison

COUNCIL can now progress the long-term leasing of Echuca’s Telley House (formerly Wistaria) and Customs House thanks to the adoption of a revised commercial property leasing policy.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, council voted unanimously to retain ownership of all council freehold land and buildings, as well as ownership of all buildings on Crown Land where council has been appointed land manager within the port precinct.

Council’s Port Precinct Plan was completed in 2018 and was developed in consultation with the community.

“The plan … sets the vision, ‘A place to take your time, relax and enjoy yourself’, as well as four strategic objectives. This now drives any future actions, ensuring they link back to the Port Precinct Plan,” Cr Weston said.

“In June 2018, council asked for a comprehensive review of council-owned land and buildings within the precinct. This review included an assessment of each property rental, its term, current use of the property, financial overview and management models.”

Key principles were also established for retaining ownership of current properties within the port precinct, including:

■ Preservation of historic council buildings.

■ Maintaining the heritage of the precinct.

■ Promotion of tourism and economic development.

■ Support social and cultural outcomes.

■ Balance the ability to generate an economic return with the use of the buildings.

The adopted policy for commercial leasing sets out a standard process for dealing with leases to ensure they are consistent, transparent and impartial, as well as maximising council’s return.

It also separates assessing properties in Echuca’s Port Precinct from other properties in the shire, to ensure the criteria for precinct leases links back to the Port Precinct Plan.

With a revised policy in place, council will soon start the expression of interest process for Telley House and the Customs House.

Telley House is vacant and a lease will be offered through to April 2027. Customs House will be empty soon with a lease to be offered through to 2040.