COMMUNITY PLAN: The old Byron Bay Hospital site may stay in community hands.
COMMUNITY PLAN: The old Byron Bay Hospital site may stay in community hands. Christian Morrow

Plan to keep old hospital in community hands

BYRON Bay's old hospital may stay in community hands after a plan that would see Byron Shire Council get a long-term lease on the property for a peppercorn rent, was ticked off by the council last week.

The plan, devised by a community group led by Chris Hanley and Nationals Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW Ben Franklin, will now go to State Health Minister Brad Hazzard and be passed on for consideration by the NSW Cabinet.

Under the plan, the State Government would also refurbish the site that would then become home to a range of educational, health, community and arts groups.

The council would be the trustee of the property, with Mr Hanley becoming chairman of a steering committee for the transfer of the old hospital to community hands.

Mr Hanley said he hoped the plan would go ahead due to level of community and business support it had received.

"I have 75 letters of support from across the region including from Ballina MP Tamara Smith, Ben Franklin, Labor's candidate for Ballina Asren Pugh and former Ballina MP Don Page, as well as a range of education, arts and community organisations,” he said.

Mr Franklin said it was significant that the Premier Gladys Berejilian, Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Mr Hazzard had all visited the site so far.

"I will be advocating strongly to see this plan succeed,” Mr Franklin said. "If this goes ahead this unique and interesting proposal may well serve as a template for other projects like it.”