Aged care clips air park wings
Plans are well advanced for the approval of an aged care complex on land that is part of the World War II aerodrome.
If it is built the likelihood of any aviation industry will disappear, the group warned.
A small band of concerned citizens gathered yesterday to push for that aviation future.
Meeting in the shadow of a vintage Bellman hangar, built in 1941, were Ted Sly, a Ballina resident who flew spitfires in World War II; Dr Richard Gates, president of the Evans Head Memorial
Aerodrome Committee; and Brisbane woman Jean Haughton-James who worked as a transport driver on the aerodrome during the war.
All three are concerned Richmond Valley Council will approve a development application for the
Ballina Ex-Services Home’s Evans Head aged care facility, rendering the remainder of aerodrome land commercially unviable.
Dr Gates said interest from aviation enthusiasts all over Australia, and from as far away as Hong Kong, peaked during last weekend’s Great Eastern Fly-In, with 14 pilots prepared to put a down payment on blocks of land if a residential air park was approved.
With an air park would come supporting industry, and the potential for a flying school..
But an aged care complex would not help support an aviation future, Dr Gates said.
“We had interest from a Bankstown-based aviation industry keen to re-locate, but once the owners heard about plans for the retirement home they were no longer interested in coming to Evans Head,”
Dr Gates said. “They realised there would be complaints about noise.”
The council has already called for expressions of interest from developers keen on creating an air park on the remaining aerodrome land.
But Queensland developer Bill Finlen said that parcel would house only six air park homes, making the venture unviable.
If an air park was allowed to take over all the aerodrome land the number of homes would be about 60, creating jobs in aviation maintenance.
“There is a need for all available land, so costs of maintaining the aerodrome can be met by the air park residents rather than Richmond Valley ratepayers,” Mr Finlen said.