Airport buildings along Avation Drive were recently demolished.
Airport buildings along Avation Drive were recently demolished. TREVOR VEALE

Skydivers dropped into chaos over airport plans

IT WAS a "total shock" for Coffs Skydivers to learn they had just two months to find a new home.

The local business of almost 25 years knew they would need to make way for Coffs Harbour City Council's Airport Enterprise Park, but thought they had much longer to plan the move.

"We were told it was going to be a long way down the track, then we were told they didn't know what was going on, and then in October last year we were told the building was going to be demolished and that we had two months to get out," Coffs Skydivers operations manager and chief instructor Lawrence Hill said.

"We were just in total shock."

After discussions with the Mayor Denise Knight and airport management they were able to secure another six months and have now relocated their business to 65 Albany St.

"If we had to get out when they said we would, we would have had to close our business," Mr Hill said.

"We're now in Albany St and have an uncertain future. The premises are less than perfect for our operations, and we have 12 months here before it too is demolished so in that time we have to secure ourselves appropriate premises. We are very sad about losing our clubhouse at the airport."

 

Airport buildings Along avation Drive demolished.. 24 JUNE 2019
Several buildings have been demolished to make way for stage one. TREVOR VEALE

Coffs Harbour City Council's Director Business Services Andrew Beswick points out expiring leases on the land reverted to a month-to-month basis in 2016.

"We have been in regular contact with Coffs City Skydiving and other tenants for several years about the Airport Enterprise Park.

"The development of the first stage of the project is following the normal planning process as a stand-alone project, following the subdivision approval in 2017," Mr Beswick said.

In recent weeks several buildings in addition to the skydiving premises have been demolished to make way for the 100-lot enterprise estate off Aviation Dr including buildings occupied by The Air Force Cadets and the Air League Coffs Harbour Squadron.

 

Kyle Clifford Memorial skydiving day at South Grafton Aerodrome: Lawrence Hill of Coffs City Skydivers with the Clifford family: Beth Clifford, Kye Hogg 21 months, Jamie Lee Donohoe, Billy Clifford and mum Jodie Clifford. Photo Lynne Mowbray / Daily Examiner
Lawrence Hill (at left) at the Kyle Clifford Memorial skydiving day at South Grafton Aerodrome. Lynne Mowbray

"The air cadets had a building built by community 20 years ago with everything they needed. These buildings were built by the community for the community so why they have to go is beyond me. I believe this development could have been done differently," Mr Hill said.

He personally has doubts about the future viability of the project.

"This big proposal is being touted as so amazing, but I don't believe that."

 

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UNCERTAIN FUTURE: Coffs Skydivers ran a successful business and also a skydiving club with members from across the state based at the airport.

He is curious about what will happen to this development if the airport is handed over to private enterprise next year.

Coffs Harbour City Council is currently working on a number of funding proposals to the State and Federal Government to help fund the $24-million enterprise park project.

With over 23 hectares of commercial land on offer, and its close proximity to the CBD and neighbouring airport, council is billing it is an ideal location for all business types and sizes.

Expressions of interest from suitable businesses for stage one close on October 15.