Artist impression of facilities at a proposed $40 million development at Empire Vale.
Artist impression of facilities at a proposed $40 million development at Empire Vale. Contributed

$41m 'play haven' attracts complaints, support

NOISE and beach access are at the centre of community concerns against a first-of-its-kind proposal to build a $41 million 'private play haven' in South Ballina.

Ballina Shire Council's town planner Rod Willis said the council has never navigated such a complex, private development application - due to its "non-commerical elements” such as 10 caravan park sites.

In the past three months, 17 submissions have been assessed and uploaded with the online development application on Ballina Shire Council's website with more expected to be lodged in the coming days.

Joseph Goodwin has lived on Empire Vale Rd in South Ballina for more than 43 years and claimed his house is 900m from the proposed helipad.

Artist impression of facilities at a proposed $40 million development at Empire Vale.
Artist impression of facilities at a proposed $40 million development at Empire Vale. Contributed

He said the flight path would be 500m from his house and claimed the "continuous nuisance” from the flights would lead to "a loss of privacy”.

The Statement of Environmental Effects by the applicant Ringtank Pty Ltd's developer said the heliport "is not intended for more than seven helicopter flight movements per week”.

Mr Goodwin said the helicopter activity coupled with the other recreational facilities, such as the proposed go-kart track, don't fit the South Ballina lifestyle.

"These activities are not welcome in a quiet rural setting,” Mr Goodwin said.

Empire Vale holiday-makers, Stuart and Jenny Liang said they have visited the area for more than 20 years and object "in the strongest terms possible” to the closing off access to Beswicks Beach.

"This would remove something available to the wider community and restrict it to a privileged few,” the husband and wife wrote.

The pair claimed the track is more than 100 years old and used by "generations of locals and visitors”.

Artist impression of facilities at a proposed $40 million development at Empire Vale.
Artist impression of facilities at a proposed $40 million development at Empire Vale. Contributed

The issue of beach access near Empire Vale Rd has been addressed in the Ecological Assessment report in the DA.

It states "vehicular access to the beach is to be closed, and a new public pedestrian access path is to be installed from Empire Vale Road.”

On the other hand, Joanne Boyton expressed support for the company's 'eco recreation village' but said at this stage this stage it does not fulfil the requirements for 'eco-friendly'.

Ms Boyton objected to the drainage works outlined, saying they 'divert' polluted water and "redirect it via subsurface pipes to a wetlands area ”.

AN artist impression of facilities at a proposed $41 million development at Empire Vale.
AN artist impression of facilities at a proposed $41 million development at Empire Vale. Contributed

"The proposal allows for a dam to partially block a submerged watercourse. There is no outlet for this water apart from creating surface run-off across the adjoining property in a high risk flood zone,” Ms Boyton said.

A letter was sent to the JALI Local Aboriginal Land Council to assess the development application.

The Statement of Environmental Effects states: "the site is not identified to be located a sensitive Aboriginal landscape area.”

The public exhibition period closes on Friday, March 10.

Ringtank Pty Ltd have been contacted for comment.

Road and track proposals to connect South Ballina's proposed $41 million private play haven.
Road and track proposals to connect South Ballina's proposed $41 million private play haven. Contributed


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