$60 million equals 238 homes

BALLINA is set to be transformed by a $60 million residential development, with work expected to start on-site early next year.

Ferngrove, at North Ballina, has been in the pipeline for six years, but it has been one of the town's most controversial developments.

Nearby residents have raised concerns about flooding, and the developers admit the site is a 'sensitive piece of ground'.

In May this year, the company asked for a 12-month deferral of its developer fees, raising concerns from some within Ballina Shire Council about the project's viability.

But developer Ken Jones, from the Gold Coast-based Rose Jones Group, said they now had approvals from all the relevant departments and agencies.

“We are very excited about this project,” he said.

“It has taken a long time to get to this point, but we have now sold and exchanged contracts on 30 lots.”

Sales are being handled by Ray White at Ballina. The real estate's director, Graeme Hellyar, said the cost of a block started at $250,000.

Ferngrove comprises 238 blocks of land, ranging in size from 400sqm to 800sqm. The blocks will be released in five stages, and Mr Jones said it would be 'demand driven'.

This is a market that he understands - his company is responsible for some high-profile building projects in the region, including the Ramada at Ballina and Byron @ Byron.

“Ballina is the place to be in Northern NSW,” Mr Jones said.

“It's a growth town. It's a pretty town with great beaches and shopping.

“The majority of people who will live here at Ferngrove will probably be second or third home owners.

“They will be a variety of people - locals, people from Sydney, empty-nesters looking to downsize or retirees from Lismore and Casino.”

And despite some criticism early in the process, Mr Jones said they were looking forward to seeing work start.

“We want to be proud of what we leave behind,” he said.

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