Why Did Council Hold Developer Contributions For 8 Years?

In September 2003 Richmond Valley Council approved an aged care complex on Currajong Street, Evans Head shown in the diagrams below:

Retirement village site to the south of Currajong Street.  DA approved in September 2003

Retirement village site to the south of Currajong Street. DA approved in September 2003 Evans Head  even though there was a Native Title Claim over part of the land at the time.

Plan for aged care facility which is much smaller than the one proposed for the aerodrome

Plan for aged care facility which is much smaller than the one proposed for the aerodrome

The developer, Ex-Services Home Ballina, had to pay Richmond Valley Council developer fees (Section 64 contributions) for the complex amounting to $502,502.

The development was subsequently abandoned because of the unresolved Native Title Claim and because Richmond Valley Council offered the proponent land on the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome in August 2004 as an alternate site:

Council offered land to Ex-Services Home Ballina even though there was already an offer to build an airpark on the site which had gone to Council in 2003.  The offer was made by Bill Finlen, an experienced developer

Council offered land to Ex-Services Home Ballina even though there was already an offer to build an airpark on the site which had gone to Council in 2003. The offer was made by Bill Finlen, an experienced developer

An airpark proponent had already put a proposition to Council to make  a development on the same site:

An initial proposal for an airpark was put to council in December 2002 one month after the aerodrome was listed on the NSW State Heritage Register.  As usual council went behind closed doors about the proposal.  According to documents VWD has seen the proposal was a valid one but council wasn't interested even though it was an appropriate development for an aerodrome.  The developer was ignored once council offered the land to Ex-Services Home Ballina (which subsequently became RSL LifeCare.

An initial proposal for an airpark was put to council in December 2002 one month after the aerodrome was listed on the NSW State Heritage Register. As usual council went behind closed doors about the proposal. According to documents VWD has seen the proposal was a valid one but council wasn’t interested even though it was an appropriate development for an aerodrome. The developer was ignored once council offered the land to Ex-Services Home Ballina (which subsequently became RSL LifeCare).

By October 2004 Ex-Services Home already had plans drawn up for the aerodrome:

Plans for the retirement village complex for the aerodrome were already drawn up two months after the offer was made

Plans for the retirement village complex for the aerodrome were already drawn up two months after the offer was made

 

The money the aged care facility paid for developer contributions in 2003  was never refunded to the proponent when the DA lapsed in 2008 and continued to be held by Richmond Valley Council.

It is not clear whether it was held In Trust or not but Council held the half million+ dollars  for more than 8 years.  This would have created almost quarter of a million dollars in interest for council at say 5%:

Compounding interest of 5%  per annum ( a conservative estimate of interest rates at the time) would have netted council nearly a quarter million in interest which was never paid to the proponent

Compounding interest of 5% per annum ( a conservative estimate of interest rates at the time) would have netted council nearly a quarter million in interest which was never paid to the proponent

Eventually  the money was refunded to RSL LifeCare [which took over Ex-Services Home Ballina] on the 10th of February 2011 well after the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) had approved a Development Application for decontamination of the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome site for the retirement village in January 2011  :

Internal communication within Richmond Valley Council

Internal communication within Richmond Valley Council shows the amount repaid and the date of repayment well after the decontamination application had been approved the JRPP

It cannot be said that the retirement village proponent was not involved in the decontamination process as the documents used to support the decontamination application show very clearly it was to accommodate the retirement village.

But more than that RSL LifeCare took out a caveat over the site the day before the DA was considered by the JRPP.  Now why would they take out a caveat over aerodrome land if they didn’t have an interest?!

So it looks as if Richmond Valley Council repaid the developer contributions for the 2003 DA for the retirement village in 2011 more than 8 years later without any interest.  So did the money sit there collecting NO  interest for that period or did council cash in on the half million dollar fee by reinvesting it for that period.

It begs the questions why didn’t RSL LifeCare recover the not insubstantial amount of money for more than 8 years when it was clear the original site would fail,  and did council invest that money to make interest?  If Council made money on interest,  why was there no interest paid to proponent in 2011?

It is difficult to imagine an organisation just leaving a large amount of money with council for such a long time.   Why?   And why was the money claimed after the decontamination development application was in the bag with the approval of the JRPP.
The public deserves a clear and thorough explanation of this matter.

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