The owners of two long term hangars on the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome (see picture above) were vindicated today in the Supreme Court in Sydney when they won their battle to keep the caveats they had in place to protect their interests were confirmed by the Court.
The owners of the hangars had been trying to get their leases renewed and registered for years and had paid the necessary fees but for reasons unknown to Valley Watchdog Richmond Valley Council had consistently failed to renew and register them. Whether Council wanted them off the aerodrome altogether or the purchaser of the whole aerodrome wanted them off or moved elsewhere has not been made public but the reasons for council’s refusal should be made clear to the public so that council can be held to account for its actions.
Council threatened to take the owners to court if they failed to lift the caveats and the owners took up the challenge and won.
So the caveats remain in place and could do so until 2028 unless council finally comes to the party and signs off and registers the leases or makes some other arrangement that accommodates the hangar lease holders.
The hangar owners have agreed to sign a Heritage Agreement for the site which is an agreement between the State Government and Richmond Valley Council to provide funding for the upkeep of the aerodrome and heritage interpretation of the site (see below) as well as a range of other conditions put in place by the NSW Heritage Council, joint consent authority for the site. The Aerodrome was listed on the NSW State Heritage Register in November 2002
The caveats should not affect the delivery of the F-111 to Evans Head and a restored historic Bellman Hangar near the other two hangars where it will be housed.
The Court awarded costs against Council. Ratepayers will yet again have to foot the bill for what appears to be a poor management decision.
Council also lost another case last year which will cost ratepayers a substantial amount although it would appear that the full amount is not yet known as the Court has yet to ascertain the legal costs which Council will have to pay including the legal costs of the other side in the case
Council has had to fork out a lot for legal bills over many years including the failed Iron Gates matter which cost, we understand, close to a million dollars in legal fees.
Perhaps Council needs to review the provision of legal services and the advice it is receiving. Certainly the ratepayers deserve an explanation for such a history.
There is little doubt that this is a victory for the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome, the hangar owners and the preservation of aviation and the World War II history of this important site.
As one of the hangar owners Halden Boyd noted after the case: “This is a victory for the Men and Women who served at Evans Head during World War II. Lest We Forget”