Bank backs Ballina marina


THE Macquarie Bank has volunteered to build a public marina for the people of Ballina ? but only if it gets to develop the land surrounding the site as well.

Under a proposal put to the council, the bank has said it wants to develop State Government-owned land at Boatharbour Road into a ritzy tourist and residential precinct.

The land stretches over several hectares between the Richmond River, the Pacific Highway, Boatharbour Road and the canal, and is presently used as open space by residents.

No figures on the potential value of the project were available yesterday.

However, under the proposal, the site would be transformed into a combination of luxury villas, apartments, houses, restaurants, cafes and hotels.

At the same time the boat harbour, traditionally used for docking trawlers and presently home to about 10 trawlers and 10 other vessels, would be increased in size by about 50 per cent, allowing up to another 15 boats.

Macquarie Bank Community Partnerships chief executive, Peter Wright, said the bank put up the proposal only after it was approached by the council.

Mr Wright said the council asked the bank for 'ideas' on collaborations the two groups could enter into to get the marina built.

Those ideas were packaged into a document, Ballina Boat Harbour: Proposal for a Community Partner- ship, and handed to the council in June.

Despite a push by council to consult with the community on improving the river for boating, the Macquarie Bank proposal has never been made public.

Ballina mayor Phil Silver said this was because the vision laid out in the document had not been formalised.

"There is no proposal," Cr Silver said. "We have a concept from Macquarie Bank on what they would like to do. It's not council's concept."

"We have passed a resolution to create a marina. The boating needs analysis is a response to that resolution. There is absolute transparency."

Cr Silver said authorisation for the proposal would ultimately fall to the NSW Department of Lands, which owned the land.

Outgoing Ballina Shire Council general manager Stuart McPherson said the site would be the best one for a marina, but described the Macquarie plan as speculation.

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