A Chinese company that wants to build a new city on agricultural land between Brisbane and the Gold Coast has handed contracts to local farmers, asking them to sign over their land if it can secure approval for the project.

Cane farmers around Rocky Point met last night with a lawyer representing Chinese company Songcheng, which is considering buying the 6,000 hectares of farmland for urban development.

Local farmer and director of Canegrowers Rocky Point, Greg Zipf, told ABC Rural growers at the meeting were given contracts to sign that would commit them to selling their land to Songcheng if the deal goes ahead.

“The option agreement means you lock your land up to them,” he said.

“It’s not actually a contract of sale, it just means you can’t sell to anyone else.

“You are locked in with them for the next nine months and, at the end of that, they will either exercise the option to take you into the contract or terminate it.

“They offered that and had agreements there for everyone to take home and consider signing.”

Last year, about 40 local growers formed a collective to sell their combined 6,117 hectares, expected to be worth more than $1 billion, as a single parcel of land.

Wednesday night’s meeting suggests Rocky Point cane farmers are a step closer to signing what could be Australia’s most expensive sale of agricultural land to a foreign investor.

Sale still conditional

The sale is still conditional on a number of factors, such as Local and State Government support, which is needed if the land is to be rezoned for urban development.

The ABC understands Songcheng also wants a commitment that the majority of the 6,117 hectares be made available by landholders, before it decides to proceed with the deal.

Canford Property Group’s Roland Evans, who represents the collective of local landholders, was at the meeting and said landholders were briefed on the contract process.

“The aim and the purpose [of the meeting] was to explain to land owners of the individual lots of land what the process was going to be going towards the contracts, and any taxation issues that there might be surrounding the sale of the properties,” he said.

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