Council rejects Ramada change

RAMADA employees celebrated last night after Ballina Shire councillors refused a controversial change of use application for the riverside hotel.

But despite the decision, the issue has not been resolved. Even before yesterday’s extraordinary council meeting, Slipway Properties had lodged the application with the NSW Land and Environment Court.

Planner for Slipway, Steve Connelly, said they decided to go through the court system because the application was ‘complex’.

If approved, it would allow 94 of the 115 units to be used by permanent residents.

Mr Connelly said he hoped court proceedings would allow those involved to ‘draw breath’.

“The court is familiar with development of this type and with the range of interests involved,” Mr Connelly said.

“My clients appreciate that the use of the hotel they built is a sensitive matter for our community.

“The process they are pursuing is open to all parties.

“They are proposing this approach as a way to engage with persons who have raised concerns and hope for a positive outcome for both local tourism and investor interests.”

Speaking on behalf of Ramada employees, Leanne Cawley said she was ‘relieved’ they had the support of the council.

“I am ecstatic,” she said.

“It’s a real relief for the staff and now we can get on with our jobs.

“The pressure is off, which is great, because there have been a lot of sleepless nights.”

In determining the council’s position on the application, Cr Jeff Johnson said the Ramada was an ‘iconic building’ for Ballina.

“We are a tourist town,” he said.

“I really believe that we should be refusing this – it’s not in our town’s interests.”

Cr Sue Meehan agreed, and said the council should not approve the change of use simply because of the applicants’ financial concerns.

She said many issues, such as rubbish collection, mail and storage, had not been adequately addressed.

“They (the units) were never built as homes,” she said.

Three councillors – mayor Phillip Silver, Sharon Cadwallader and Peter Moore – did not vote after declaring an interest in the matter.

Cr Robyn Hordern had been granted a leave of absence.

The remaining six councillors voted unanimously to refuse Slipway Properties’application.

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