A $107 million redevelopment of Club Banora is the only way to stave off certain closure, Tweed Shire Council has been told.
As part of the plan, sections of the club grounds are to be sliced off to make way for shops and a retirement home.
The Council was recently told the club has been struggling financially for years, has never been hugely popular and usually appears relatively empty of patrons. Its golf course is also below par because of the poorly draining soil it was built on.
It is hoped the massive redevelopment will save the club, which employs 41 people and injects more than $9 million a year into the Tweed economy.
Twin Towns Services Club, which built Club Banora in the early 1980s toward the end of the Tweed club industry’s financial heyday when poker machines were banned in Queensland, says it ‘no longer has the ability to subsidise the club ‘in its current format’.
Twin Towns has told council the redevelopment is necessary to avoid ‘closing the club indefinitely’.
A recent report to Tweed councillors says the viability of the club as a stand-alone entity in the Twin Towns group has come under considerable pressure ‘because of significant changes in the club industry relating to poker machines, indoor smoking and increased taxation’.
The club’s top storey was closed just over a year ago to help stem the financial losses.
Retail and aged-persons component
The report also says that ‘a key element of the redevelopment is the inclusion of a retail and aged-persons component to generate the necessary cash flows to fund the redevelopment’.
The proposed redevelopment includes:
1. creating a smaller building partly suspended over the existing lake
2. relocation of the tennis courts and bowling greens
3. a 5,000-square metre retail development adjacent to Leisure Drive, with supermarket and specialty shops
4. a retirement home covering 11,000 square metres of the club
5. reconfiguration of the car park, which currently can cope with 700 vehicles.
Shire councillors were urged to allow the club to fund private planning consultants to help speed up the redevelopment to avoid the ‘loss of a broad range of public amenities’ including a heated swimming pool.
Council planners will oversee the work of the private consultants in a process recently approved by the state government to allow faster rezonings.
Shire planning staff have been in discussions about the redevelopment since late 2009 and recommended the move allowing the private planners to speed up the approval process because, they said, of the club’s ‘prevailing difficult financial position’.
The club has already ‘invested substantially in the preparation of application documentation and studies’.
Councillors were told the club’s poor financial situation had been confirmed by accountancy firm KPMG.
Club Banora is built on 60 hectares of land, much of it flood prone.