EARLY DAYS: Golf club member Matt Dougherty, Grafton District Golf Club president Trevor Townsend, surveyor Andrew Fletcher, Member for Page Kevin Hogan, Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt and the CEO of Signaturecare Graeme Croft on the site of a proposed 144-bed aged care centre to be built on land occupied by two former holes on the golf course.
EARLY DAYS: Golf club member Matt Dougherty, Grafton District Golf Club president Trevor Townsend, surveyor Andrew Fletcher, Member for Page Kevin Hogan, Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt and the CEO of Signaturecare Graeme Croft on the site of a proposed 144-bed aged care centre to be built on land occupied by two former holes on the golf course. Tim Howard

Koalas are happy as 144-bed aged care development approved

THE Grafton District Golf Club's controversial plan to convert its former 10th and 11th holes into $2.2million windfall has finally come off after a 15-year battle.

Clarence Valley Council has today approved the development of a 144-bed aged care development on the site complete with a Koala Plan of Management.

When operational the facility will bring 167 jobs to the region.

Cr Andrew Baker moved to allow the DA for the proposal from national aged care provider Signaturecare to develop the site, but with some significant changes to the conditions of consent in the report.

These included stipulations to ensure the transfer of land to the Grafton Golf Club for the planting of koala food trees continue into perpetuity.

How to incorporate the wildlife corridors, particularly the koalas which live on the neighbouring golf course has delayed the start of construction on the site.

A management plan for the koalas was reviewed twice in the past two years and will come into force once construction begins.

To compensate for loss of habitat a minimum of 1.88ha has been set aside to provide additional koala fed tree planting, to be transferred to the golf club prior to the commencement of site works. Cr Baker's amendment ensured this arrangement would be permanent.

Cr Baker said his changes came in response to issues raised at last week's committee meeting.

"These were the outcome of discussions between the staff and the applicant,” he said.

"The council has refused some things the applicant put to us. I've been concerned not to give away things the council officers sought to retain.”

But Greens Cr Greg Clancy still had concerns.

He wanted assurance that not only would the feed trees be locally sourced, but the seeds for them should come from local trees.

But councillors shut down further questioning on this, saying it was outside the matters considered in the council report.

It has been almost two years since the provider announced its interest in the site and proposed to begin construction during 2018.

It ended 13 years of controversy over what the club proposed to do with the land, which included sub-dividing the land into housing blocks, which had angered nearby residents.

The latest incarnation was still not to the liking of neigbours with council receiving 16 submissions against the development.