An­other court bat­tle

A re­tire­ment vil­lage given green light to ex­pand

Tweed Daily News - - NEWS - Campbell Gel­lie

A $16 MIL­LION re­tire­ment vil­lage de­vel­op­ment at Banora Point is about to be ap­proved through the courts af­ter coun­cil­lors knocked the pro­ject back last year.

Ratepay­ers have al­ready forked out $40,000 de­fend­ing the coun­cil­lors’ de­ci­sion to refuse the ap­pli­ca­tion de­spite staff telling them at the time the pro­ject should be ap­proved.

Coun­cil­lor Chris Cherry de­fended the le­gal chal­lenge say­ing it had forced the de­vel­oper to com­pro­mise on as­pects of the pro­ject.

How­ever, coun­cil­lor War­ren Pol­glase said the com­pro­mises could have been reached through ne­go­ti­a­tions. On Oc­to­ber 31, RSL Care and the coun­cil agreed on con­di­tions for the 66-room, three-storey de­vel­op­ment to go ahead. The con­di­tions will have to be re­viewed by the Land and En­vi­ron­ment Court judge be­fore the pro­ject starts. It is the pro­posed last stage of the Dar­ling­ton Re­tire­ment Com­mu­nity pro­ject which was ap­proved years ago.

In the orig­i­nal plans, the sixth and fi­nal stage was sin­gle-level and con­sist­ing of 30 res­i­den­tial aged-care rooms. Dar­ling­ton Re­tire­ment Com­mu­nity res­i­dents lob­bied coun­cil­lors to refuse the pro­ject in Septem­ber last year, com­plain­ing there was not enough car parks, their homes would be shaded and they would lose out on their in­vest­ment.

Cr Cherry made a mo­tion to refuse the de­vel­op­ment based on those complaints and was sup­ported by Mayor Katie Milne and coun­cil­lors Reece Byrnes and Ron Cooper.

RSL Care ap­pealed the de­ci­sion a week later.

Through the ap­peal process the ap­pli­ca­tion has been mod­i­fied to scrap in­de­pen­dent-liv­ing rooms, in­crease bound­ary set­backs and land­scap­ing, and re­duce the size of the roof so the build­ing doesn’t look as bulky. Ac­cord­ing to a coun­cil spokesman, ratepay­ers’ “ini­tial costs for the ap­peal was ap­prox­i­mately $40,000, but the fi­nal costs will not be rec­on­ciled un­til af­ter the court judg­ment”.

Cr Cherry said by ban­ning in­de­pen­dent apart­ments, which had fit and able res­i­dents, the de­vel­op­ment wouldn’t need as many car parks, out­door ar­eas and com­mu­nal spa­ces.

“Once they did that our only op­tion was to me­di­ate that and ad­dress some con­cerns of the res­i­dent,” she said.

“I think that was def­i­nitely worth while go­ing to court.

“Some peo­ple whose units were go­ing to be over­shad­owed and their qual­ity of life was go­ing to suf­fer, th­ese prob­lems have been ad­dressed.”

Cr Pol­glase said the com­pro­mises could have been made with­out go­ing to court, sav­ing ratepay­ers about $60,000 by the end of the whole process.

“This whole process could have been avoided if the coun­cil­lors just kept their noses out of it and let the staff ne­go­ti­ate with the de­vel­oper,” he said.

“A med­i­cal fa­cil­ity such as this and the work it brings is so much needed in the Tweed. Now we are go­ing to have the same out­come 12 months later and af­ter ratepay­ers have spent an­other $60,000 in court fees. It is just one of those things where this coun­cil knocks back de­vel­op­ments which are then ap­proved in court.”

Last fi­nan­cial year, Tweed Shire Coun­cil went $500,000 over its $900,000 le­gal bud­get fight­ing de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tions.

PLAN­NING: Artist im­pres­sions of RSL Care, Banora Point.

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