Approval ‘a big step' for clubbies

IT TOOK just 20 minutes for the Joint Regional Planning Panel to approve plans for the new $6 million Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore surf lifesaving clubhouse.

The panel, which met at the Ballina Council Chambers yesterday afternoon, voted unanimously to approve the application.

That gave the green light for a facility with meeting rooms, club rooms, gymnasium, café/kiosk, offices, training rooms, change rooms and toilets.

A separate patrol building, including an observation tower, will be built on the dunes at Lighthouse Beach.

As part of the work, Compton Drive and Lighthouse Parade will be extended and realigned.

However, the drawn-out process has not been without controversy.

Prior to the vote, former club member and lifesaving stalwart Jack Trevan told the panel members the clubhouse should be located on the dunes at Lighthouse Beach, instead of further back.

“The main thing we should be looking at is the location of the building,” he said.

“It's essential for the people at the surf lifesaving clubhouse to be able to see the beach when patrols are not on.”

Club president Kris Beavis admitted the location was probably not ideal.

But he said a new facility was desperately needed.

“The plans are accepted by our members, but when I say ‘accepted' I don't mean preferred,” he said.

“As an active patrolling member, I thoroughly agree with Jack Trevan that sight lines are extremely important to us.

“We also have concerns about the use of shrubs which grow to two or three metres in height.”

However, Mr Beavis still welcomed yesterday's approval by the JRPP and said it was an important milestone for the club.

“This (the approval of the application) is a huge step forward,” he said.

“It means we can now goout and start to think about how we are going to get the money.”

Ballina mayor Phillip Silver, who is on the panel, said during debate yesterday that he had watched the project evolve over many years.

He acknowledged Mr Trevan's concerns about the site, but said the panel could only refuse or approve the application.

“In an ideal world, they may have liked to have the building located on the dunes,” Cr Silver said.

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