Concerns over bulky goods depot
CONCERNS have been raised about a new report, commissioned by Ballina Shire Council, which identifies the Southern Cross Industrial Estate as the best place for future bulky goods developments.
This land is owned by the council.
Hill PDA was commissioned by the council to undertake the Ballina Bulky Goods Retailing Investigation.
Its purpose was to identify land for bulky goods and large format retail up to 2026.
Currently these businesses are spread around Ballina, including the town centre, Kerr St retail precinct, Clarke St industrial area, West Ballina and the Southern Cross industrial precinct.
"It would be advantageous for bulky goods and LFR (large format retail) floorspace to be concentrated in one location," the report states.
"In our view Ballina Shire Council should seek to encourage a bulky goods and LFR cluster in the Southern Cross precinct in and around the Harvey Norman Centre.
"Bulky goods premises and LFR floorspace should thus be restricted elsewhere."
However, Lennox Head-based town planner Steve Connelly said it was a tricky situation for the council.
"Yes, it was a competent study," he said.
"But the council travels down a really tight alleyway when it wears so many hats.
"It wears the hat of the planning authority, the development consent authority and the land- owner.
"In this case, all of the lollies have gone to the council, the owner.
"This is in stark contrast to the opinion proffered by the Chamber of Commerce and others.
"The council must be particularly careful; it could be seen to have a conflict of interest.'
But the council's strategic services group manager, Steve Barnier, said the investigation evaluated each site.
He denied that the council had influenced the outcome to favour its own land.
"The consultants concluded that the best outcome would be to create a bulky goods cluster at the Southern Cross Industrial Estate near Harvey Norman," he said.
"The council has now agreed with the findings and has asked staff to commence the rezoning process of that land."
The council has approved a Bunnings store on the Big Prawn site in West Ballina.