Tweed Shire Council has paved the way for the developers of the Tweed’s first new GP super clinic to be built under a special federal funding program by staging a fee-payment plan which threatened to hold back the project.
Construction of the single-storey clinic in Corporation Circuit, Tweed Heads South, is expected to start this year and completed by next. The clinic will include specialist medical consultants, such as psychologists and physiotherapists, general practitioners, nurses and administration staff. It will also have a pharmacy and kiosk.
The federal government has funded the project with over $7 million and the building is set to cost around $4 million. The company behind the project, Ausjendia Pty Ltd includes three Tweed-based doctors as directors.
The project faced paying almost $420,000 in developer fees under council’s road contribution plan, but the company sought a reduction of around $128,000 in the levy, saying it could not meet the extra cost because they would have to borrow funds which was prohibited under federal government guidelines for such projects.
However staff said they were legally bound to impose the larger amount and could not alter it.
But a move by Cr Warren Polglase to stage the payments was backed unanimously. Under the new plan, the company has to pay an initial 25 per cent of the contribution, then 50 per cent when the building is completed and approved, and the final 25 per cent when it’s ready to be occupied.
Cr Polglase said the staged payment plan allowed the developer to get the project off the ground and council had accorded similar plans for Twin Towns Services Club’s hotel development as well as more recently, the fast-food giant McDonald’s for its Murwillumbah outlet.
‘This way council has complete control of the process, from construction through to the occupation certificate,’ he said.
Cr Katie Milne said the Tweed roads contribution plan under which the levy was struck could not be changed but was causing ‘a big problem and affecting lots of businesses’, including small ones such as roadside fruit stalls.
Cr Milne said staff had warned that the developer contribution program was ‘breaking down’ mainly because of state government refusal to reclassify Tweed roads as state roads as they had in other regional centres such as Newcastle.
Richmond MP Justine Elliot said the super clinic was a ‘milestone’ and delivered on her election commitment to fund a GP super clinic in the Tweed Heads area.
Mrs Elliot said the services at the new clinic would ‘complement those currently provided by North Coast Area Health Service and other local health care providers’.
She said the clinic’s consulting rooms and training facilities will allow high-quality education and training opportunities for medical students and other health professionals.
‘The clinic will offer a combination of private and bulk billing, with doctors encouraged to bulk bill children under 16 years, patients over 65 years, and health care card holders.’
Mrs Elliot said there were now 35 GP super clinics either open, providing early services or under construction and the government had committed $650.4 million to build more than 60 such clinics around Australia.