$21 million development for North Coast town moves forward
THE long-awaited proposal for an residential airpark development at the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome has taken flight this week.
The Evans Head Airpark consortium, led by businessman Peter Lynch, has submitted a development application Richmond Valley Council for an estimated $21 million development.
The multi-staged project would construct 85 residential lots, a four to five star boutique hotel and convention centre, 23 commercial lots, and a brand new aviation museum.
Aviation enthusiasts buying into one of the 85 lots will have a flyer's paradise at their doorstep, able to taxi their planes from private hangars on their property straight on to the aerodrome tarmac, in a lifestyle akin to fairway-style estates for golfers.
The project is slated to be built in five stages across two precincts, with the new aviation museum and community centre in the western precinct commenced after the eastern precinct, which includes the bulk of the residential lots, industrial areas and the hotel.
It's understood the project will require State Government approval to proceed due to its size.
The proponent has described the ambitious new museum as "very large scale ... with a strong RAAF theme in line with its heritage."
"The larger future museum facility will be sited in the museum precinct on the western side of the aerodrome to house the expanding collection of EHMAHAA [Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Heritage Aviation Association] and available to other local community groups such as the Evans Head Living Museum.
"The new facility will serve as a centre for multiple community based groups ensuring a close relationship with the aerodrome.
"Local community would be consulted and invited to take an active role in the nature and operation of such a museum.
A 2.9ha site has been set aside for the hotel and convention centre, while the 23 commercial sites are designed to cater for a predicted demand for private hangars and light industrial sheds to service the local aviation industry.
In its application the proponent argued the airpark would "bring added prosperity and significance to the Evans Head area and distinguish it from the usual development often found in coastal towns".
"With the creation of a residential and commercial airpark, aviation related industries would be enticed to the area to start businesses and increase the number and range of employment opportunities.
"With an aviation centre such as this, more job opportunities are open to local youth, not only in aviation, apprenticeships, building, etc, but also in tourism related industries."
President of the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Heritage Aviation Association, Rod Kinnish, welcomed the project.
"It's going to revitalise the aerodrome and bring excitement to the town," he said.
Mr Kinnish said recreational aviation had become far more accessible to the average person in recent years due to the falling costs of light aircraft, which in turn had boosted its popularity.
He said a light plane could now be purchased for around $55,000 and running costs were similar to a four-wheel drive car.
The Northern Rivers had also become a hotspot for aviation enthusiasts in recent years, making it easier to engage in the pursuit locally.
"We have some of the best flight instructors in Australia on the Northern Rivers ... and we have one of the highest densities of sports flying in Australia," Mr Kinnish said.
The development application is now on display on the Richmond Valley Council's website.