Council to make Ramada decision
A CONTROVERSIAL application to convert 94 of the 115 tourist units at Ballina’s Ramada Hotel into permanent residences will be decided tomorrow.
Slipway Holdings wants the Ballina Shire Council to approve the change of use.
That would leave 21 units in the complex available for tourism purposes, while the others could be used for tourism and/or permanent occupancy.
A council report recommends approval, subject to storage provisions and 24-hour on-site management.
Lennox Head planner Steve Connolly made the application to the council on behalf of Slipway Holdings.
He said the council’s conditions were ‘not frightening’.
“This is a good application and it warrants approval. I am pleased to see the council’s planner is of a similar view,” he said.
“I’m sure the councillors will make the best decision they can.”
However, the proposal has been criticised by some unit owners, the tourism industry and nearby businesses.
In a letter to the council, Ballina Tourism and Hospitality president Paul Ferguson said tourism injected more than $100 million into the local economy every year.
“We need to continue to grow this into the future, not have parts of it taken away for ever,” Mr Ferguson said.
The proprietors of The Point restaurant in the Ramada building have also expressed concerns, saying approval of the application would result in ‘significant reduction in revenue ... with adverse implications for employment and economic viability’.
But one of the directors of Slipway Properties, Ian Mills, told the council the application was about ‘flexibility’.
“The very nature of the building and the design/size of the apartments ensures that the majority of the apartments will stay in the hotel letting pool,” he wrote.
In March, the council rejected an application to allow more permanent residences at Riverside Suites. An application to allow 11 of the units to be ‘dual key’ is still being assessed.