Rob and Ruth Harris, of Wollongbar, have an uncertain future after hearing about Ballina Shire Council's rejection of a $10 million expansion to an Alstonville retirement village.
Rob and Ruth Harris, of Wollongbar, have an uncertain future after hearing about Ballina Shire Council's rejection of a $10 million expansion to an Alstonville retirement village. The Northern Star

Land ruling stops Alstonville aged care project

RUTH and Rob Harris are worried about their future after an application to allow a $10 million expansion of a retirement village at Alstonville was knocked back by Ballina Shire Council.

The Wollongbar couple had planned to take a spot in the new section of the facility, but now that it won't go ahead they fear they will have to move out of the area and away from friends.

"It's just disappointing," Mrs Harris said.

"We've been on the waiting list for about two years, but now we'll have to rethink our options because there just aren't enough places out there."

Seventh Day Adventist Aged Care had asked the council to amend its Ballina Local Environment Plan (LEP) to change the zoning of some of the land surrounding its Alstonville Retirement Village site in Pearces Creek Road to allow a 52-unit expansion on the site.

However, council rejected the request because the land is classed as State significant farmland, which cannot be considered for urban rezoning.

Adventist Aged Care director David Knight said he was disappointed with the council's decision.

"While we respect the required decision-making processes of the council, we feel that important facts regarding this development have been grossly misrepresented," he said.

"Studies were undertaken at the council's own suggestion and show that in fact the area of land is not State agriculturally significant, as incorrectly claimed by the council.

"The current waiting list for entry into the existing 84-unit village is over 100 people. We believe this shows a strong support for the development."

However, the council's strategic services group manager, Steve Barnier, said there was no disputing the land was of State agricultural significance, "whether they agree with that or not".

"We understand their situation, but there is a context here that has been in place for many years," Mr Barnier said.


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