A public briefing has been held about the plans for a $45 million development at Empire Vale at South Ballina.
A public briefing has been held about the plans for a $45 million development at Empire Vale at South Ballina. Contributed

$45m beachside development 'not a massive resort'

NOISE, road safety and environmental impacts were among concerns raised at a meeting into a $45 million family retreat.

The Empire Vale, South Ballina proposal - which includes an equine facility, shooting range and go-karting facility - was subject to a Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel public meeting yesterday.

Resident Margaret Howes said she was concerned about the development because of the potential noise pollution.

She was also concerned about safety on the local roads, already used by sugar cane trucks.

Resident Stephen Totterman said he was concerned about damage to sand dunes.

"It's a dynamic environment and for decades now, it's been recognised the dunes are a protective barrier between farmland ... and the beach," he said.

"In the longer term we're facing shoreline recesson and climate change.

"Is now the time for more beachside development?"

David Felsch's family have been in the area for four generations, and his property neighbours that of the proposal.

"I'm not against change, but it has to be done without ... making our lives dramatically different," he said.

Nicole O'Connor of Tassiriki Ranch said she didn't oppose the proposed equine facility, but was concerned about the safety implications on her family, staff and guests at their horse-riding sessions and retreats.

Architect Garry McGrath, who was representing the owners, told the panel the development was a getaway plan for a horse-loving family.

"There is an overwhelminig idea with the community that this is some sort of massive resort," Mr McGrath said.

"It's actually a retreat of essentially four siblings with a grown up family each of their own."

He clarified alongside three residences, the "private caravan park" listed on the application referred to a number of "short-term cabins" for family and friends to use sporadically.

Mr McGrath acknowledged concerns raised at the meeting.

"We understand where a lot of the community concerns are coming from," he said.

"Ultimately, I think our previous working relationship has been exceptionally good.

"The family ... have owned the site for some time.

"I think also, they're here to become members of the community.

"They're not building this to become those neighbours that you don't want to talk about."

The proposal will now be subject to consideration by the JRPP and a further report from Ballina Shire Council.