FUTURE SECURED: The Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club is amongst the NSW clubs that has secured a long term lease.
FUTURE SECURED: The Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club is amongst the NSW clubs that has secured a long term lease. Marc Stapelberg

Certainty for surf clubs as lease arrangements are finalised

SURF clubs in New South Wales will now be able to lease Crown land for a minimum of 20 years after the State Government announced long awaited changes to the lease system.

With 80% of surf clubs on Crown land, the agreement between the NSW Government and Surf Life Saving NSW will cut costs and reduce lengthy lease negotiations.

President of Surf Life Saving Far North Coast Branch, Wilson Cregan, said it would give the majority of surf life saving clubs in in NSW certainty.

Lennox Head-Alstonville Surf Life Saving Club was among the clubs which limped from lease to lease.

"Lennox Head were still in negotiations to secure a longer lease so this lease certainty comes at a good time," Mr Cregan said.

"It shouldn't be up to club members to negotiate commercial leases.

"Not everybody has the knowledge of the system.

"A surf club's job is to save lives. As the minister (Niall Blair) said, 'NSW has the best clubs in the country. The government is determined to make it easier for surf clubs and their members to get on with doing what they do best - saving lives'."

Until the Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club secured it new $5.8 million facility with the help of Ballina Shire Council and the Federal Government, the award-winning club had no lease certainty.

"The problems with short-term lease arrangements is that is makes to hard to secure grants for building upgrades. You can't ask for money when your lease is uncertain," Mr Cregan said.

Yamba Surf Life Saving vice-president Alan Schofield also welcomed the decision to extend the lease available to surf clubs.

"We had a 40-year lease from 1974, which expired in 2014," he said.

"Then we had a temporary lease with council."

Under the new deal, surf clubs will be charged the minimum rent for Crown land, which is $469 a year, and will all be subject to the same agreement.

Surf clubs that earn additional income from the premises by commercial use, such as a cafe or bar, will be subject to a higher fee.



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