River Street Woolworths the morning after it was badly damaged by fire.
River Street Woolworths the morning after it was badly damaged by fire. Jay Cronan

Woolworths keen to reopen store

WOOLWORTHS has rejected rumours it plans to demolish its River St, Ballina, store after it was badly damaged by fire last month.

A Woolworths spokes- woman yesterday confirmed discussions were taking place between the supermarket chain, the landlord and Ballina Shire Council.

"We are working closely with the local council on plans to make the store operational again," she said.

"Until these plans are confirmed with the local council and the landlord, we're unable to confirm a timeframe (for the reopening of the store)."

It is understood Woolworths recently purchased land between the existing store and Cherry St and had planned some alterations, additions and refurbishments.

The council's regulatory services group manager, Rod Willis, said pre-lodgment discussions between the council and Woolworths were confidential.

"It is fair to say that Woolworths has made inquiries about the redevelopment of the store in a more comprehensive way," he said.

"There have been discussions about a number of different options.

"We expect that a development application will be lodged reasonably soon."

The River St store was popular with elderly residents and long-term locals for its convenience and friendliness.

It has been closed since it was destroyed by a fire in the early hours of December 19.

No one was injured in the fire but the supermarket received extensive smoke, fire and water damage.

It is believed about $1 million of stock was lost in the blaze.

Since then there has been speculation the supermarket giant would not repair the River St building because it has a second store in the town at Ballina Fair.

Glenn Costello from the Ballina Chamber of Commerce said traders in the surrounding area had been affected by the closure of Woolworths.

"It's a drawcard to that end of town; it brings people there," he said.

"We support the redevelopment of the store and we believe strongly in the presence of Woolworths in the CBD. It's very much needed in the area."



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