$4 million grant could help bring INXS museum to Ballina
A NEW sensation is planned for land at Ballina airport, and the State Government has chipped in funds to start the work.
Ballina Shire Council has been granted $3.95m from the NSW Government to complete the civil works necessary to open up what has been described by the Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, John Barilaro, as an "innovation park".
And the INXS museum which has been mooted for Ballina -- the former manager of the iconic Australian band, Chris Murphy, lives in Ballina Shire -- is exactly the kind of business council wants to see in the area.
Council has been in talks with Mr Murphy about the museum, along with the owner of a film studio at Byron Bay.
Council's airport manager, Paul Tsikleas, said the land would open the opportunity for a "whole lot of different ideas" at what he described as the gateway to the region.
He noted Seven Mile Brewing, producing boutique beers, has already set up near the airport.
Many of the rental cars and buses that leave the Ballina airport head straight to Byron Bay.
But Mr Tsikleas said it was hoped the enterprises which council would like to see in the first three blocks of the new precinct would encourage those visitors to stop in Ballina.
He said airport precincts in other major areas had moved away from pure industrial land, and he said Ballina was lucky as, being the freehold owner of the airport and the adjacent land, council could direct what it wanted to see happen in that part of town.
The State grant, with council funding the rest of the $5m project, will see about 1m of fill on three 1ha blocks, stormwater drainage built, water services connected and other civil works completed for the blocks which will front the new Airport Boulevard.
Initial work has begun on that road, which will connect from the airport through to North Creek Rd via an intersection near the Ballina Homemaker Centre where Harvey Norman is located.
Mr Tsikleas said all the works would be completed towards the end of next year, while all up, the 40ha parcel of land in the precinct has the potential for a total of about 40 lots, depending on rezoning approvals.
Mr Barilaro used the line from the film Field of Dreams, "build it and they will come," to say that once the initial infrastructure is in place, the businesses will come, and bring jobs with them.
While the Nationals have been criticised for pork-barrelling in the Ballina electorate in the lead-up to the March 23 State election, Ballina's mayor, Cr David Wright, welcomed the funds coming into the shire, saying that about $20 million has been injected by the government.
Mr Barilaro said the Nationals, and their candidate for Ballina, Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW, Ben Franklin, weren't pork-barrelling, but were simply giving regional NSW its "fair share".