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Every prawn has its day

IT'S a big day for the Big Prawn.

Today a decision will be made on whether our favourite crustacean lives or dies.

Ballina Shire councillors will make the call at today's ordinary meeting when they vote on the application for a $12 million Bunnings Warehouse at the site at West Ballina that includes a much-needed makeover for the prawn.

Council staff have recommended approval.

But while Bunnings had some big plans for the Big Prawn, including increasing its height by 1m to 15m, the council staff are keen to see it stay the same height.

The report states that the prawn is "too high in relation to surrounding structures".

"It is considered that if council were of a mind to grant the application, a condition should be imposed requiring the height of the Big Prawn to be commensurate with the existing structure," it reads.

The council's regulatory services group manager, Rod Willis, confirmed the application was for an increase in the tourist attraction's height.

"I believe Bunnings is proposing to put a tail on it and raise it a bit," he said.

"However our recommendation to the council is for the Big Prawn structure to stay the same height as it is now."

Bunnings wants to make the iconic prawn the showpiece of its new development.

The application states that the "refurbishment and re-erection of the Big Prawn adjoining the site entry" is an "important element of the proposal".

President of Ballina Tourism and Hospitality, Leanne Cawley, said it was wonderful that Bunnings had made the decision to keep the prawn.

"The Big Prawn is an internationally recognised symbol that makes Ballina a destination," she said.

"People from overseas know Ballina because we have the prawn, and that's a great thing for a small country town.

"People like quirky, they like different.

"People will seek out the Big Prawn for those reasons.

"So not only are Bunnings doing a good thing by providing 70 jobs for locals, they are also boosting our tourism industry."

Mr Willis said the Bunnings development was a major one for the Ballina Shire.

He said there were still some issues to be worked out, but that they could be dealt with through conditions attached to the consent.

"It certainly is a big investment in the Ballina Shire," he said.

The Big Prawn has been one of Australia's best-loved "big things" since it was built in 1990 at a cost of $500,000.

Demolition of the Big Prawn and other structures on the site was approved by the council in September 2009.

The community has long had a love/hate relationship with the giant crustacean.

While many people wanted to save the Big Prawn because it was a famous tourist attraction, others said it was tired, faded and well past its use-by date.

The West Ballina site was put on the market in May 2010 and sold to Bunnings last year.

WHAT KIND OF MAKEOVER SHOULD BUNNINGS GIVE THE BIG PRAWN? Tell us by commenting below.

Topics:  ballina shire, big prawn, bunnings


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