Boutique cabins, cooking school approved by Ballina council
UPDATE: A BOUTIQUE organic cooking school in the Ballina Shire hinterland has been granted approval for on-site cabins, a recreation building and new education facility for their classes.
The $2.2 million development application for the site on Fernleigh Rd at Brooklet was given the green light at Thursday's council meeting.
The application was approved with a number of conditions, including "protecting and supporting' adjoining premises in case excavation is needed close to nearby buildings.
An amendment was moved by Cr Jeff Johnson and seconded by Cr Nathan Willis for the application to be deferred to seek further information on whether the education facility is essential for the development.
Cr Sharon Parry said council should try to protect neighbouring international spa and retreat Gaia.
"It seems to be that the neighbours to the northeast have built up an internationally iconic retreat spa, and they have existing amenities they believe it's been compromised," she said.
"Before we approve this, we should ensure we've done our very best to protect the existing amenities."
Cr Johnson agreed with Ms Perry.
"Particularly given the topography of the land and the proximity of the Gai spa and resort, on a quiet night, particularly at night, noise will travel," he said.
The amendment was lost via the casting vote of the Deputy Mayor, and the original motion to approve the application was carried.
Original story: THE owners of a boutique organic cooking school in the Ballina Shire hinterland are expected to get approval for on-site cabins, a recreation building and new education facility for their classes.
The $2.2 million development application for the site on Fernleigh Rd at Brooklet has been recommended for approval at Thursday's council meeting.
Lodged by Planners North on behalf of Bhadra Property Holdings, the DA is for eight tourist cabins ‒ four with one bedroom and four with two bedrooms ‒ and a lounge/recreation building.
A third element of the proposal is the information and education facility, which would be used for the Bhavana Organic Farm and Cooking School.
The cooking school is already operating on the property, with classes starting at $325.
According to their website, Bhavana means "spiritual cultivation", and this is "at the heart of every experience we offer".
"More than just a cooking school, Bhavana is a catalyst for health and wellbeing," the website states.
"Our slice of paradise is situated on 125 acres of magnificent farmland ... Bhavana is about simple delicious food in a nourishing and nurturing environment.
"Inspiration, relaxation and creation are at the foundation of our teaching.
"Our intention is to extend your knowledge, and support you in making healthy whole food choices for you and your family."
The Brooklet site is right next door to Olivia Newton-John's Gaia Retreat and Spa.
And it appears Gaia is not impressed with the plans, and instructed town planner Malcolm Scott to lodge an objection to the council on their behalf.
"The overall nature and scale of the proposed development is not consistent with contemporary planning controls," Mr Scott wrote in the objection.
"The proposed cabin buildings and recreation, administration and commercial kitchen building will be clearly visible from sections of the recreation open space area and walking track within Gaia.
"The proposed commercial cooking school is not like an art gallery, museum, library or visitor information centre and appears to be more, by nature and use, a hybrid type of boutique small restaurant. Restaurants are a prohibited development in the RU1 zone.
"Gaia Retreat and Spa have instructed me; it is their opinion that the proposal should be refused or significantly scaled back in order that contemporary planning controls can be achieved and the potential for unintentional off-site impacts onto its operation minimised."
Gaia Retreat and Spa were not the only ones opposed to the DA.
The council received 10 submissions, including five objections and five letters of support.
Two of the submissions were kept confidential.
Council staff have recommended approval of Bhadra Property Holding's DA, with some conditions.
Councillors will make a decision at Thursday's council meeting.