Big retail centre for Ballina approved

A major shopping centre tipped to inject $40 million into Ballina shires economy during construction has been given the green light.

Ballina Shire Council last week approved the Homeworld Ballina project for the industrial area in Smith Drive, West Ballina, consisting of 29,000 square metres of retail floor space in five buildings fronting the Pacific Highway at the towns southern gateway.

The multi-million dollar development for bulky-goods retailers will also include 630 car parking spaces.

Ballina Chamber of Commerce and Industry has strongly backed the project, saying it will create 150 full-time jobs once completed as well as numerous part-time jobs.

The chamber also says the project would inject around $40 million into the local economy while it was being built and estimated that half the predicted $57 million of the retailers turnover would stay in the shire.

Chamber secretary Bryan Mariott said the planned building of a major roundabout at the intersection of Smith Drive and the highway to be paid for by the developers would mean a major improvement to traffic safety in the area.

Approval of the project was recommended by an independent planning consultant employed by Council to avoid any inference Council had a conflict of interest because it owned land in the towns Southern Cross Industrial Estate, which could also be used for such a retail development.

During the plans public exhibition period, four objections were received mainly concerned with vehicle access and the visual impact at the rear of the proposed buildings facing residents.

According to the staff report, the RTA had favourably considered the proposal in terms of access and safety while concerns about aesthetics would be addressed with landscaping.

At least 120 conditions of consent have been attached to the development, dealing with such issues as access, amenity/visual impact, signage, stormwater controls, waste disposal and crime prevention.

Cr Margaret Howes praised the development, saying the area would be enhanced by it because 20 years ago it was a place for derelicts, a swamp full of drugs and all bad things, and now it will be fixed up.

Cr John Felsch said he initially felt the centre was not in the right place.

But Im only one of nine (councillors) it is a very progressive thing for Ballina.

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