A BILLION dollar Chinese logistics company has been given government approval to buy Tamworth’s Prince of Wales Park ahead of a controversial new Woolworths development being built there.
In a fresh twist to the long-running saga, Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) has revealed the CBD park, held under an exclusive $2.5 million option by Moree developer Theo Zannes, will in fact be on-sold to Chinese importer Everich International.
The Foreign Investment Review Board has cleared the move and the purchase funds have been transferred to an Australian bank.
Tamworth councillors are tonight expected to authorise the option for the park’s sale to be switched from Mr Zannes’ company, Tamworth Property and Development Investments, to the Chinese company.
The sale of Prince of Wales Park ignited community anger last year when it emerged council had struck a secret deal to sell the park for $2.5 million without consulting ratepayers.
The spectre of a Dan Murphy’s bottle shop on the site also raised fears of an increase in alcohol-fuelled violence in the city.
But Tamworth mayor Col Murray said the sale would bolster council’s coffers and bring critical new investment into Tamworth. “I’m very comfortable with it and the company involved has shown interest in possibly setting up a regional office here and looking for more investment opportunities,” Cr Murray said.
He said about half of the proceeds of the sale would be funnelled into the establishment of a regional playground at Bicentennial Park.
Vocal objector to the sale Bill Bryan, who runs his engineering business from a neighbouring property, said the impending arrival of the supermarket and liquor superstore would irrevocably change the neighbourhood.
“By their own traffic study, there will be hundreds of vehicle movements an hour in the area,” Mr Bryan said.
“My clients will never be able to get a parking spot and so I’ve put my building on the market.”
In February, the Joint Regional Planning Panel gave the go-ahead for the development.
Work on the centre is expected to begin in the coming months.