Sydney residents wanting to experience the majesty of imperial China may have to continue to travel further than Wyong, following the seeming disintegration of plans for a Chinese theme-park on the Central Coast.
The company behind the mooted “Chappypie China Time” theme park at Warnervale has apparently failed to make contractual payments for the purchase of land for the theme park.
And the Central Coast Council, which had contracted to sell the land to Australia China Theme Park, issued a mysterious statement this week saying it was seeking an “urgent meeting” with the company.
Should plans for the project irretrievably break down, it would be an ignominious and wasteful end to a scheme that at one stage promised a $500 million development for the region.
The project had been enthusiastically backed by the former mayor of Wyong Doug Eaton.
But it would be an entirely predictable outcome for the theme park’s many critics.
“We said this from the outset,” said the Labor Member for Wyong, David Harris.
Mr Harris said there was no evidence the company behind the project had experience delivering something of the size it was promising. Nor was the land zoned for the sort of use they envisaged.
Indeed, the director of Australia China Theme Park, Bruce Zhong, has previously made a virtue of his lack of experience. “This is a world’s first-ever project,” he told Fairfax Media in 2014.
But Mr Zhong has not responded to an emailed request for comment.
Nor has Mr Eaton, whose wife was previously revealed to have shares in a company part-owned by Australia China Theme Park. Mr Eaton has said his wife had no knowledge of how she came to acquire those shares.
Another curious aspect has been the advertisement in China, on social networking app WeChat, of the potential to invest in the project and receive permanent residency visas.
The latest development comes after the former Wyong Council last February contracted with Australia China Theme Park to sell it two parcels of land totalling 15.7 hectares near the Pacific Highway at Warnervale.
The company paid $300,000 deposits for each parcel, and was to settle the first parcel for $3 million plus GST this February.
The Central Coast Council then gave the company an extension until the end of March. But the Council’s statement this week suggests the Australia China Theme Park has missed that deadline.
The council said that the contracts contained confidentiality clauses and as such it could not comment, but that it had “sought an urgent meeting with representatives of ACTP to discuss these contracts”.
Bob Graham, a former independent councillor on Wyong Council, which has since been merged into the Central Coast Council and placed under the control of an administrator, said the project never made any sense.
Mr Graham said the council-owned land at Warnervale should instead have been used for a business park, which could already be employing people.
By Jacob Saulwick
Sydney Morning Herald