Ballina real estate agent Ian Mills said a proposed $120 million riverfront development will create 1500 square metres of public open space out of what is currently private land.
The Mills family, along with the Gold Coast/Sydney-based Samtay Group, are behind the development (dubbed the Ballina Gateway Project), which is considered to be of state significance and has therefore gone straight to the Department of Planning for approval.
Two of the buildings within the development a 90-room hotel and a block of 84 apartments are seven storeys high. Current local planning regulations mean Council can only approve buildings up to 16 metres high (five storeys).
Mr Mills said they originally submitted plans that complied with the regulations, however, the Department of Planning wanted to see greater public space along the river.
With the exception of a single storey riverside restaurant, all buildings are now 20 metres away from the river, he said. He said through a process of negotiation the Department decided to allow them the additional two storeys.
This way we get the same yield off the site, he said. Its a win-win for everybody.
Head of Councils regulatory services, Rod Willis, said Councils position was that the limits should have been adhered to.
But it was the governments call, he said. Over the last 20 years Council has worked pretty hard to maintain development that complies, so were concerned about that. Council will now assess the proposal and provide submissions.
Mr Willis said the NSW Government had provided a framework to the developers before they finalised their application so there would be a reasonable expectation that if they adhered to the parameters it would be approved.
The 11,500 square metre parcel of land was bought by the Mills family in 1989 for $1.65 million. It is bounded by the Richmond River, the RSL car park, River Street and Kerr Street, and is currently the site of the Sundowner Motel, various shops and workshops, an old slipway and boat building area.
The new development includes a 90-room international standard hotel, 84 apartments, 1200 square metres of retail space fronting River Street, a riverfront restaurant and on-site car parking.
Mr Mills said the Ballina Gateway Project would provide hundreds of jobs and bring life back to the riverbank.
It was always said that Ballina had turned its back on the river, he said. But over the last 10 years weve seen this renewal of the waterfront. Its the same in many towns and cities in the world. You only have to look at Sydney and Newcastle.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.