Council deems Gateway Project too high

Ballina councillor John Felsch called it a crime that Ballina Shire Council has missed out on $1 million worth of development application fees for the Ballina Gateway Project, which has gone straight to the the NSW Minister for Planning for approval.

We do all the work and they (Department of Planning) get all the money, he said at last weeks Ballina Shire Council meeting.

Ballinas Mills family and the Gold Coast/Sydney-based Samtay group are behind the riverfront development, which includes a 90-room hotel, residential apartments, a waterfront restaurant, retail space and subterranean car-parking.

It has been classified as a major project so has bypassed Councils planning approval processes and gone directly to the Department of Planning instead. The department has already given the nod to developers that a building height of seven storeys would be acceptable. However, this exceeds Ballina Shire Councils planning restrictions by two storeys. The designs also breach Councils building envelope controls.

Cr Felsch said the Gateway Project was a complete over development of the site and he likened it to the Gold Coast. He said he believed 90 per cent of the community did not want it.

The seven storey tourist hotel will be located on the corner of River and Kerr streets and Cr Felsch said the roundabout there (which forms part of the Pacific Highway) was going to be a disaster.

Were going to have an extra 300 cars living on this site and and extra 300 cars servicing it, Cr Felsch said. At peak hour thats an extra 600 cars into that roundabout.

Cr David Wright said it defied logic to have such dense development on the busiest corner in the whole shire. He said even if the design adhered to Council guidelines it would still allow for very substantial development.

I just hope the Department of Planning takes some notice of us, he said.

Cr Felsch said breaching the five storey limit set a dangerous precedent and he predicted developers could then expect to push for nine or even 11 storey buildings.

Mayor Phil Silver said this was Councils chance to get a much as possible for ratepayers.

This is our opportunity to swing back the pendulum and achieve as much as possible, he said. Existing planning restrictions would have already allowed a significant development with significant profit. If theres going to be more profit on top of that, some of it should come back (to the community).

Cr Felsch said the loss of three Norfolk Pines was also a disaster.

The meeting decided to advise the Department of Planning that Councils building height restrictions and building envelope controls should be complied with and the development should be amended accordingly.

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