State to sell off land

DOZENS more schools, police stations and a hospital will be offloaded by the Napthine government as it builds a cash war-chest for infrastructure spending ahead of this year’s November election.

Ten former schools, six police stations, a similar number of government depots and part of a hospital are among surplus sites up for sale.

At least 24 former school sites were sold last financial year, the state government revealed as it makes good on a promise to disclose what public land it has sold or intends to sell.

Following the 2010 election, the government began an audit of state assets to identify those that could be put up for sale to fund new projects.

The controversial process was until recently shrouded in secrecy but the Department of Treasury has published details of all surplus sites sold last financial year and properties that are earmarked for future divestment.

The state government was conducting a large-scale land sale program and was also ''delivering unprecedented transparency'', Assistant Treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips said.

The 35 assets on the block include Yarra Junction’s police station, the Katamatite Historical Society building in Moira, Morwell Gasworks and part of the Malmsbury Training Centre, a jail for young people.

Former schools sites in Deer Park, Kealba, Keilor, Bell Park, Lethbridge, Lyonville, Sydenham, Markword and Humevale are also up for grabs, as are disused police properties in Fairfield, Broadford, Toora, Swan Hill, Cann River and Yarra Junction.

An SES site in Benalla and part of the Bendigo Psychiatric Hospital will also be sold off.

Last financial year 62 sites were snapped up by the private sector, reaping the state a $276.5 million property windfall, Treasury’s list reveals.

About a third were re-zoned former school sites in high-value suburban locations. Some, like Brandon Park Secondary College in Wheelers Hill, which sold for $47.5 million, attracted significant development premiums.

Monash Mayor Geoff Lake called on the government to reinvest the money in local projects. Mr Lake said the five school sites sold for $97 million in and around Clayton had ''substantially reduced public open space''.

''We don’t think the government should be using its windfall from public land sales in Monash to fund projects in other parts of Victoria.''

The list shows a road reserve on the Burwood Highway in Wantirna changed hands for $17.5 million, while another in Woodend sold for as little as $127,500.

One land parcel, a portion of the former State Research Farm which sold for $14.2 million, will form the gateway to a new suburb called East Werribee with 17,000 residents in 7000 homes.

Land identified as surplus was first offered to other state, local and federal authorities before being put up for public sale, Mr Rich-Phillips said.



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