Bowls club considers $1m property venture


AN adventurous million dollar plan by the Iluka Bowls Club (IBC) to build between 12 and 16 single storey affordable rental units next to the club, is by its own admission, 'controversial' in the eyes of some in the community.

IBC director and finance committee member Ray Flaherty, who is heading up the project, said a recent survey sent out to all members proved there was a need for this type of accommodation in the community.

Although only in its 'embryonic stage', Mr Flaherty said the club received 310 replies, about 30 per cent of all surveys sent out.

"Because of the way it was set out, it prompted a response from the community and we got what we were looking for," Mr Flaherty said.

"About 80 per cent of the respondents absolutely agreed that there is a vital need for affordable rental accommodation in Iluka.

"All along the coast, from Evans Head through to Iluka and Yamba, it is virtually impossible to find."

Mr Flaherty said about 100 of the respondents said they were in fact looking for the type of accommodation that the club was considering building.

"We verified what we set out to prove," he said.

In the letter obtained by The Daily Examiner, the IBC says the units 'would be available to club members and Iluka residents' and would be for those of minimum age of 55 who met 'a financial criteria similar to that for community housing in NSW'.

With very few early details available, Mr Flaherty said the units would be a mixture of one and two bedrooms.

The controversy surrounding the idea arises from a perceived loss of sporting fields in the area, My Flaherty admitted.

Mr Flaherty said the land, known as Lot 93, was purchased about 12 years ago and the club initially wanted to use it as space for an extra bowling green and car parking.

Ample parking already exists, he said, and the club has no plans to expand its greens 'in the foreseeable future'.

The idea of cheap accommodation on the coast was the next idea on the agenda.

The ground has since been used by council and now supports about a third of the home ground of the Iluka Cossacks, plus netball courts.

It also borders on the Iluka turf wicket used by the Lower Clarence Cricket Association and premier league cricket competition.

"We are not going to take anything away from the sporting groups," Mr Flaherty said.

Mr Flaherty said the next stage was discussions with Clarence Valley Council to see if it wanted to come on board financially.

"We just don't have the funds to build something like this," he said.

"It would probably cost about $1m to $1.25m to build so we are hoping that council will come on board."

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