Lyn Oakley, of Mullumbimby, has been issued a massive rent increase, for the land manage by Transport of NSW, on which her railway cottage has been on for over 100 years.
Lyn Oakley, of Mullumbimby, has been issued a massive rent increase, for the land manage by Transport of NSW, on which her railway cottage has been on for over 100 years. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

MP steps in to help save family's historic cottage

AFTER The Northern Star published the plight of the Mullumbimby family fighting to save its historic railway cottage home, Ballina MP Don Page raised the issue with the NSW Minister for Transport.

The house on Argyle St, built in 1893, was purchased by Lyn Oakley's railway worker father Albert McLean in 1962 for 550 pounds, from another railway worker - on the understanding the land would also be sold to him by NSW State Railway.

But while the house sale went ahead, the land sale didn't and instead, Mr McLean entered a "peppercorn lease" arrangement with the NSW State Railway (as it was known then) for eight shillings a year.

That rent stayed on a peppercorn scale until Ms Oakley's father died in 2011 and arrangements were made to finalise his estate.

After the land was valued, Ms Oakley was notified her rent would increase from $550 a year to 10% of its land valuation, estimated at $185,000.

If she cannot secure a suitable lease by March 2014, the low-income family will have to vacate the cottage - home to four generations.

It is unclear what would happen to the historic cottage in that instance but Ms Oakley said it may have to be demolished and the land returned vacant to the department.

Since our story ran, Don Page's office indicated the minister was sympathetic to Ms Oakley's circumstances and had spoken to his ministerial colleague, urging Ms Oakley to continue to negotiate an agreement with the transport department.

There are signs the cottage may be saved, with a spokesperson telling us the department was committed to entering into a new lease with Ms Oakley when the peppercorn lease expired.


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