Retirement village axed
PLANS for the Evans Head Retirement Village have been thrown into chaos with the withdrawal of RSL Lifecare from the project.
Richmond Valley Council general manager John Walker announced on Wednesday at a business lunch at the Casino RSM Club that the charitable organisation would no longer be building the retirement village.
"We got a letter from RSL Lifecare on Friday advising that the board had determined not to proceed with the development," Mr Walker said.
The Northern Star has managed to obtain a copy of the letter sent to the council by RSL Lifecare CEO Ron Thompson, which outlines the issues that have culminated in the organisation's decision to withdraw.
"Conditions from council ... made it extremely difficult and uneconomic to implement the approval (to build the village), including $12.3million ... water and sewage fees," the letter read.
The letter compared this cost with similar developments in which RSL Lifecare was involved that amounted to only $2-3million.
Other issues raised included delays by council, concerns over transparency of fee arrangements, probable loss of aged-care bed licences due to further time delays and uncertainty as to when development could actually start on the site.
"The letter listed issues which I dispute, but they have the right to rescind," Mr Walker said.
"Subject to the lawyers looking into it, the entire plan, which has been 14 years in the making, is over."
Mr Walker said the next step for council is to decide what they want to do.
"The priority for a retirement village facility will remain and we will look for alternate ways to bring it to fruition," he said.
Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Committee president Richard Gates has been against the location of the development from the start.
"It's not before time that people recognise that this is an inappropriate place to put a complex," he said.
Mr Gates said he was concerned ratepayers would be left footing the bill for the collapsed project.
"We are left with a legacy of $6million and a hole in the ground that becomes a mosquito-infested site and contaminated soil dumped on the other side of the area," he said. "And we still don't have a nursing home."