Go-ahead for Evans aged facility
EVANS HEAD will get a retirement village devel- oped by RSL Lifecare next to the aerodrome following a meeting between the community and the Joint Regional Planning Panel yesterday.
The approval includes minor amendments to reduce noise from the aerodrome in the residences.
An emotional Kevin Saville, a navy veteran and Evans Head resident was the last member of the public to speak on behalf of the Evans Head-Woodburn RSL Sub-Branch.
While he was the only speaker in favour of the development near the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome, he received the loudest cheers and applause from the 70-strong crowd in attendance.
"I've heard a lot from people who are worried about planes crashing into buildings and using the aerodrome to fight fires," he said of the opposing arguments.
"But no one has yet brought up the fact the home is a necessity."
Mr Saville said many aging veterans and elderly people in the area are in need of constant care.
Opponents to the development included aviation experts who spoke in regards to safety. Kim Rolph-Smith of Austra- lian Warbirds Association said to put a development so close to an active runway was not good.
"It's irresponsible," Mr Rolph-Smith said.
"It is an airport that could be a valuable asset to the community."
CEO of Recreational Aviation Australia, Steve Tizzard agreed that to put a retirement village next to an aviation park was an incompatible development.
"The cessation of aviation uses at the airpark could happen as residents start complaining about the noise," he said.
The plans for the retirement village also include a childcare centre for up to 40 children and the owners of the two established preschools in Evans Head spoke against this idea.
Evans Head Preschool director Allyson Cuskelly said their objection wasn't with the aged care facility but with the duplication of childcare services they had planned.
"The two preschools in town already have vacancies," she said.
Ms Cuskelly said while the new childcare would offer double glazing on the windows to help with noise abatement, this was not quality care for children.
"Young children should not be kept inside with double-glazed windows," she said.
"They should be able to get outside and interact with nature."
Secretary of the Evans Head Living Museum, Marie Humphrey said Evans Head had a strong connection with the history of the aerodrome which trained thousands of pilots during the Second World War.
"The aerodrome should be left as a living war memorial to them," she said.
Richmond Valley Council's manager for planning and development, Angela Jones said the approval was a long time coming.
"It's been well over 12 months we have been assessing it," she said.