DEAL: Health Minister Brad Hazzard with members of the Steering Committee for the Transfer of Old Byron Bay Hospital to Community Hands.
DEAL: Health Minister Brad Hazzard with members of the Steering Committee for the Transfer of Old Byron Bay Hospital to Community Hands. Christian Morrow

The best real estate deal ever in Byron

IN COLD, hard real estate terms, the announcement yesterday that Byron Shire Council will buy the old Byron Bay Hospital from the state government for $1 could be seen as the deal of the century.

Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW and Nationals candidate for Ballina, Ben Franklin, was joined by NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard to announce the deal, which in Mr Franklin's words was, "probably the best day I've ever had as a member of parliament".

"This is the state government working with the community, with the support of council, and actually delivering something real and genuine that will have a lasting beneficial effect on the Byron Shire community.

"This old hospital is not going to be bulldozed to make way for holiday apartments; instead people will be able to maintain their special link to the site and use these community spaces."

In addition, NSW Health will cover $200,000 in remediation works on the old hospital, which has been closed since April 2016.

"It all started 18 months ago when Chris Hanley and I had coffee at the Top Shop and discussed ways to keep the hospital site in community hands," Mr Franklin said.

Local real estate agent Chris Hanley led the community meetings that produced a submission to the state government putting the community's case to maintain ownership.

Under the plan, the site will become home to a range of education, health, community and arts groups together with a commercial component.

"This is a very proud moment for that crazy group of people who have stuck together and grown along the way to do this amazing work," Mr Hanley said.

"Byron is full of good people with good energy who want the place to work better but we don't always have the vehicle to do that and this is a project where everything, including the political parties, councillors and community, have come together to deliver a brilliant result."

Mr Hazzard said it was due to the vocal support of Mr Franklin that the site would remain to be used by the Byron community.

The sale will be soon, with a contract being prepared.