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

Best Byron real estate deal ever

IN COLD hard real estate terms the sale to Byron Council of the the old Byron Bay Hospital from the state government for $1, could be seen as the real estate bargain of the century.

Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW and Nationals candidate for Ballina, Ben Franklin, was joined on site by NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard to announce the deal, which in his 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 (the) council, and actually delivering some- thing real and genuine that is going to have a lasting beneficial effect on the community,” Mr Franklin said.

"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 at either incredibly cheap rates or for free for community organisations.”

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 a coffee at the Top Shop and discussed whether there was a way to keep the hospital site in community hands,” Mr Franklin said.

Local real estate agent Chris Hanley led the community meetings that produced the submission to State Government for the site to stay in local hands.

"This is a very proud moment for that crazy group of people who have stuck together and grown along the way doing 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.

"This is one of those rare projects where everything including the political parties, councillors and community have come together.

"Ben Franklin should get a lot of credit here because without him none of this would have happened.”

Byron Mayor Simon Richardson said: "While the NSW Government's decision to sell this property to (the) council for the very reasonable sum of $1 is a bargain, its potential to be used for the benefit the community is priceless.”

Tamara Smith MP, Member for Ballina welcomed the announce- ment, saying: "I am so proud to have been part of the community- driven process to take a proposal like this to the State Government.

"Congratulations in particular to Chris Hanley who has been the absolute champion of this project,” Ms Smith said.