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  • Writer's pictureBBSN

BBSN needs a permanent home

To all BBSN members and followers, our group has expressed interest to the Baw Baw Shire Council relating tthe old primary school site, the BBSN is hopeful of being allowed part of the site as a permanent home for our group, where we would be able to build a showcase building implementing all the ways to make a home/building more sustainable and efficient. It would also be a great place to have a community garden. We would not be the only group who could make benefit of part of the site, as the Fire Brigade also desperately needs a bigger site. We as a group need to fight for this to happen, for the benefit of the community and our community needs. To achieve this we need your help. The YDCA has organised a protest at the site. Please read the following from the YDCA. Research has also been undertaken by the YDCA relating to Baw Baw Shire Councils actions in relation to the school site, please read the information, it is an eye opener. This research is included after the letter below.


To all members of the community in Yarragon and surrounds,




Yarragon’s community expressed interest in the former school site from the moment the primary school relocated from Rollo Street to Loch Street in 2012.

Council’s efforts to date have not resulted in the purchase of the former school site. Council is not willing to offer what the State wants for the land. The State is offering to sell the land to our Council at a 50% discount to the assessed valuation, for community use.

The time has come for Yarragon people to tell our Council to close the deal. BUY THE LAND! There is money in an account at Council for just this purpose. Public protests are needed to keep this land for Yarragon residents, not developers. It is school holiday time. With your help we can muster the numbers on the Rollo Street grounds to tell our Councillors to vote to buy the land at their Council meeting 9 October 2019. Councillors seem to have forgotten Yarragon is important to our shire. A park is less about open space and more about the function of a town according to Jacky Bowring, professor of landscape architecture Lincoln University, New Zealand.

Mrs. Inge Mitchell

464 Earls Road Yarragon South

Mob.: 0411 453 175.

December 9th 2015 - Baw Baw Shire Council held a Closed to the Public Meeting.

June 14th 2017 Council Release the Information to the public

‘ Council have resolved to release the following information to the public.’

That Council releases the following information to the public relating to the Yarragon Primary School First Right of Refusal;

* The Resolution from the 9 December 2015 Meeting; “That Council lodge a formal expression of interest under the First Right of Refusal process to purchase the former Yarragon Primary School site and does not make this application public at this time”;

* That in its First Right of Refusal, Council wished to purchase the site with the current zoning of Public Use (Education) and without a restriction on Title; and

* Makes available correspondence relating to this matter.

Council Motion Moved: Cr M Leaney Seconded: Cr M Power. Carried.

Victorian Government Landholding Policy and Guidelines

First right of refusal process If an expression of interest is received within 60 days, the parties are required to negotiate in good faith to attempt to agree on the terms of sale within 30 days after the close of the expression of interest period (or such other period as may be agreed between the parties). If the terms of sale are not agreed between the parties, the disposing agency may proceed to dispose of the surplus land by public process in accordance with the Victorian Government Land Transactions Policy.

If the terms of sale are agreed between the parties, transfer of the surplus land may proceed according to the agreed terms, at a price equal to the current market value of the land as determined by the Valuer‐General Victoria. The landholding Minister may approve the sale of land for a community purpose at a price less than the current market value of the land as determined by the Valuer‐General Victoria.

December 2015 the Council was denied the ability to negotiate under the FROR, as stated by Legislation.

December 24th 2015- Council receives its own valuation on the Yarragon School Site

1st March 2016 – Letter to Department of Treasury and Finance CEO states, ‘Council is prepared to pay the applicable market rate as assessed by a certified valuer and is not looking for a discounted rate’ States a ‘Resolution of Council to purchase the site under this process’ ‘The Council considers this a key strategic site’

March 7th 2016 – DTF inform council they can acquire the site for community use with a restriction on title or acquire via public sale process.

April 20th 2016- Council brief Councillors providing update with recommendation the CEO take the matter up with the landholding minister so as to secure the site on behalf of Council.

12th May 2017. Published on BAW BAW SHIRE WEBSITE

Old Yarragon School Site

Following recent discussions with Yarragon community groups, Baw Baw Shire Council would like to provide the following information regarding the old Yarragon school site.

Baw Baw Shire Council submitted a First Right of Refusal (FROR) to purchase the site in Yarragon to the Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) in December 2015. The FROR stated that Council was open to exploring all viable options under the current policy to purchase the site.

Negotiations and correspondence between Council and DTF in trying to get this application over the line continued in the following months; however, the application was refused on the basis that no specific defined community purpose was acceptable to the department.

Council has actioned all avenues to lobby for and facilitate a sale of the site from DTF to Council, through close consultation and with full support of the Council.

24th May 2017- Council Meeting DOTF submit to council Fast Track Government Land Service for 3-5 Rollo Yarragon- Council officers recommend the proposed re-zoning of 3-5 Rollo Street, Yarragon- Alternate Recommendation for Council officers to write to DOTF requesting they not proceed and ask for at least 6 months to identify potential future plans for the site. A unanimous motion was passed for the Council officers to action the alternate recommendation. Councillors Wallace, D Goss, J Gauci, P Kostos, J O’Donnell, M Power, M Leaney and K Cook

15 June 2017 Published on BAW BAW SHIRE WEBSITE

Transparency for Yarragon Community

Baw Baw Shire Council is releasing previously confidential information relating to the old Yarragon Primary School site following last night’s Council meeting.

Mayor of Baw Baw Shire Councillor Joe Gauci said that Yarragon residents deserve to be fully informed of steps taken by Council to preserve the old Primary School site, which has the potential to become an important community focus in the town.

“We want to be transparent with the Yarragon community and ensure our partnerships with the passionate local community remain positive whilst we work together to retain this community asset”, said the Mayor.

Council resolved to release the following information to the public:

• The resolution from the Confidential Council Meeting on 9 December 2015 to lodge a formal expression of interest under the First Right of Refusal process to purchase the former Yarragon Primary School site.

• That in its First Right of Refusal, Council wished to purchase the site with the current zoning of Public Use (Education) and without a restriction on Title.

• Correspondence relating to the matter.

“There has been a lot of interest in the proposed uses suggested during confidential discussions with the Department of Treasury and Finance; the release of this information will shed light on these communications”, said the Mayor.

“Ideas such as a caravan stopover point, a Hot Air Ballooning Museum and Education Centre or other education purposes were suggested but would never take place without extensive community consultation.

“We want to reassure the Yarragon community that we all have the same common goal, to keep this much-loved asset available for the community to use and not sold off to be rezoned.”

5th September 2017 Letter to CEO from Victorian School Building Authority reiterating the site was offered to Baw Baw Shire through FROR, ‘however there is still no clarity as yet in relation to the proposed community use which would enable the Council to purchase the site through this process.’ They grant a further extension of 6 months for further community consultation. The extension period will expire on 23rd February 2018.

18th September 2017 Council commission 2nd Valuation, Valuation consistent with the first valuation in December 2015.

1st December 2017 Council began a Survey that commenced on Friday 1 December 2017 to Friday 5 January 2018 at 5pm. 104 Survey respondents- 90% residents of Yarragon. The YDCA conducted a survey with over 200 submissions.

14th February 2018 – Council meeting In attendance Cr Gauci, Cr Leaney, Cr Power, Cr Cook, Cr Wallace, Cr Goss, Cr Kostos, Cr Jones, Cr O’Donnell.

10.5 Purchase the former Yarragon Primary School Site Recommendation by Council officers; That Council write to the Victorian School Building Authority to confirm Council’s interest in purchasing the former Yarragon Primary School through the FROR process for public open space requirements.

Presenting to Council – Jill Cooper who was on the subcommittee Connecting Yarragon 2030, Jill raised to Councillors the discrepancies from the community results regarding wants by the communtiy and Council officers published results. Yarragon community rated 1. CFA upgraded facilities 2. Community Centre /Hub 3. Open Spaces/ Community Garden. 4. Tourism option for facilities. Jill Cooper stated there was differences in the distinction of priorities from the community to council officers.

In the same meeting held 14th February 2018 - The midyear budget review was tabled and pg. 259 of the minutes, Council officers prepared the Annual Budget for 2018/2019 and Strategic Resource Plan- with key deliverables Long Term Financial Plan, Council Plan & Budget as well as completion of the 2017/18 midyear budget review process. No inclusion for the Old Primary School site.

26th February 2018- DTF confirm a VG Valuation would be undertaken on community use basis for Council to acquire the land under FROR.

18th May 2018 – DTF with offer under FROR. The offer is significantly higher than the 2 certified valuations received by Council. VG Valuation $900,000 with a 50% discount for community use. Total to council $450,000

19th June 2018- Council request a valuers conference and indicate disappointment that the policy and guidelines have not been properly adhered with and places the Council at a disadvantage in considering the purchase of the site.

23rd February 2019 – Valuers meeting is held, Council state 38 Hazeldean Road Yarragon had not been considered by VG valuers. The Council used 2 valutions from 2015 & 2017 at this meeting. The DTF rejected council offer of $315,000 plus GST the VG valuations required $450,000, the 2 council valuations were out of date.

The property referred to : 38 Hazeldean Road Yarragon sold in February 2018 and settled in September 2018 for $ 685,000 - an off market sale , the buyer sourced other price opinions from 2 other real estate agents after the purchase , both quoted high 800’s to 900’s . A residential site approx. 9000sqm. It was also not included in the Council ’s 2 out of date Valuations presented in the meeting .

26th March 2019- Council send letter to DTF requesting they revise the VG valuation due to property not included in VG Valuation.

Letter from DOTF to Mr Mark Dupe dated 21st May 2019. DOTF Peter Joustra, ‘VGV has advised that during discussions with the council valuer at the presentation held on 23rd February 2019, VGV noted that whilst the respective valuations presented significantly different levels of value, VGV considered it justifiable to consider reviewed offer from Council if Council wished to update its valuation and proceed with this course of action. VGV noted that the council valuation was dated November 2017 and therefore was considered out of date at the time of presentation. Council has elected not to revise its valuation and offer and thus the VGV maintains the original offer by council is significantly below the VGV market value and cannot be granted VGV support.’

Please note that the current market value of surplus State Government assets is determined by the VGV and DOTF is bound by its assessment. Accordingly, once the property has been rezoned it will be sold via a public sale process.’

Council Meeting 24th July 2019 Purpose: For Council to determine if it wishes to acquire the former Yarragon Primary School site under the first right of Refusal (FROR) process with a restriction on title.

Former Yarragon Primary School Site Acquisition That Council; 1. Agrees to submit an offer to the Valuer General in accordance with an updated certified Council valuation for the former Yarragon Primary School site, addressed as 3-5 Rollo Street, Yarragon with a restriction on Title for Community use; and 2. Once the offer is determined by the Valuer General, requests officers bring a further report to Council seeking a resolution in relation to the purchase of the site known as 3-5 Rollo Street, Yarragon. Moved: Cr P Kostos Seconded: Cr D Wallace

Wed, Aug 28, 2019 at 8:55 AM Peter Harris- email to Inge Mitchell This offer and revised valuation was submitted to DTF on 29th July. Currently we are waiting for it to be assessed by the Valuer General.

5th September 2019 Peter Harris – Council. Subject: Sale of former Yarragon Primary School Site

I wish to advise that on Tuesday of this week (3 September) Council received a response from the Department of Treasury and Finance in relation to the offer that Council made on 29 July 2019.

Unfortunately the offer presented by Council, which was set by a certified valuation received on 22 July 2019, was not accepted by the Valuer General. Additionally the Valuer General have updated their own valuation which has seen an increase in the price offered to Council beyond that of the previous $450,000.

The difference between the Council certified valuation and the Valuer Generals valuation is greater than 20%. This is considered to be a significant difference. Councillors have been advised of the information received on Tuesday. I will prepare a report which at this time is scheduled to be tabled at the Council Meeting of 9 October. This provides the Yarragon community approximately 30 days in which to lobby further in relation to this property.


What councils do Local government enables the economic, social and cultural development of the municipal area it represents, supports individuals and groups, and provides a wide range of services for the wellbeing of the local community.

How does Local Government Work?

The community votes in councillors. Councillors represent the community's needs and participate in decision making.

The councillors appoint a CEO who manages council operations and ensures services are delivered and decisions are implemented, and overseas the staff who deliver council services and projects.

The councillors also elect a mayor who is the leader and spokesperson for council, and helps the councillors make fair and good decisions.

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