The proposed aged care facility at Caloola Drive Tweed Heads (DA20/0712) was refused at the Tweed Shire Council meeting last Thursday.
Councillor Warren Polglase (Conservative) spoke in favour of delaying the refusal to provide extra time for the developers to address flood issues under the Water Management Act. Polglase told fellow councillors that ‘this DA has been with council 20–21 months, longer than a year and a half for determination. You would have thought that the applicant would have been advised beforehand, long beforehand, that this application had a considerable amount of faults and Council, in their opinion, were not going to approve it. But instead it came to the stage in the last two or three weeks the applicant was advised that this was not going to be supported.
This development is for 141 units development for age care… in the high end of aged care with dementia, alzheimers, specialising in those areas. The biggest issue with this proposal is to do with the flooding.’
Cr Polglase then argued for more time due to the need for this type of facility in Tweed and said that ‘you balance the needs between need for facility and risk of inundation with water… The need for this type of facility far outweighs the risk of their residents on this site for [sheltering in place] four to seven days [of inundation].’
Mayor Chris Cherry (Independent) acknowledged the issues Cr Polglase raised and council’s general support of aged care facilities recognising there ‘is a huge need for these facilities in this shire’. However, she highlighted the fact that since council’s previous support of the proposal two years ago ‘we have had a record, massive flood’ and said this had raised significant issues around ‘loss of power, loss of communication’.
‘One of our aged care facilities have closed in Murwillumbah due to these issues they have realised that occur during a flood,’ she said.
‘While I would normally support a deferral to find a solution… the legislation that says that we must not, must not, grant consent where safe occupation and evacuation will not be possible in floods. When we are talking about the particularly vulnerable cohort that we are talking about in this development then I don’t think that any further negotiation will be able to solve that issue. Unfortunately, that’s why I can’t support the proposal [for deferral],’ concluded Mayor Cherry.
This position was supported by both councillors Dr Nola Firth (Greens) and Meredith Dennis (Independent) who is also a trained nurse and previously oversaw the Wedgetail Retreat community hospice.
‘We all know the situation in nursing homes and the lack of staff,’ said Cr Dennis.
Councillor Dennis then went on to highlight the issues of how an overnight skeleton staff would struggle to care for patients while sheltering in place for any extensive period.
‘You can justify anything if you want to – but we have to look after the most vulnerable in our communities.’
Councillor Polglase was the only councillor to vote against the motion to refuse the DA.