10 projects that will change Ballina Shire forever
Ballina is about to change. It's expected to grow in all directions and we better be ready for the growing pains and the opportunities it will bring.
But, what's in it for you?
Covering around 485 sqkm, and with a population of approximately 41,790 (2016), the shire already has a prosperous economy based on building, retail, tourism, hospitality, agriculture and education.
And it's going to get busier and bigger.
Demographer Bernard Salt praised the idea of the Greater Ballina area during the launch of the Aureus development in August 2020.
"The more I study the demography of the Northern Rivers, ... the more convinced I am that it represents the leading edge of Australia's lifestyle movement," he said.
"Nowhere is this better evidenced than in Greater Ballina where everything seems to come together.
"Here is a place that's on the move and that will surely evolve further as one of this nation's favourite places in which to live, to work, to retire, to create. Greater Ballina has it all."
Here are ten projects that will change the face of Ballina Shire from this year:
Ballina Byron Gateway Airport:
Still one of the busiest airports in NSW, the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport will be a very different precinct by the beginning of 2022.
With five airlines currently offering direct flights to Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Newcastle and Dubbo, the terminal is about to get a number of different upgrades.
Works for the construction of Airport Boulevard started a fortnight ago.
They include the extension of and connection to Boeing Ave, connection to North Creek Road, construction of three roundabouts, bulk earthworks and fill, plus kerb and gutter, landscaping and underground services.
A boom gate will be installed at the airport's car park and motorists will pay for parking as they exit.
This will mean passengers whose flights are delayed will simply pay for the time they use the car park, rather than unintentionally risk an infringement notice for overstaying their booked time.
Inside the airport, new body and baggage scanners will be installed by the end of June.
More carparking and solar panels are also in the pipeline.
This plan expected to add an extra 140 car park spaces to the terminal, plus relocating the car rental kiosks outside the terminal.
Once all this is done, council hopes to complete a runway upgrade and an expansion of the baggage area for 2020/21 to 2022/23
Airport Boulevard Extension of the Southern Cross Industrial Estate:
The construction of a new entrance road to the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport will unlock future industrial land in the Southern Cross Industrial Estate.
The road will create two new sections, one of 5ha and a second one of 6ha, both owned by the council, to sell to companies interested in operating from Ballina.
Byron Studios has already unveiled plans for a 3.5ha film and TV hub in the area.
The company is already operating from Alstonville temporarily until the Ballina land is available.
The INXS Museum:
Another high profile project is the INXS museum and technology hub, a passion project of the late South Ballina music entrepreneur Chris Murphy.
While the community is still mourning his passing, many still wonder if his passion project, the INXS museum, will still go ahead.
A building conceived as an X-shape in Mr Murphy's plans, the structure was hoped to include a fashion hub to support local designers and businesses, a food precinct to showcase locally made products, plus an INXS memorabilia museum to hold Mr Murphy's extensive collection and bring tourism to the area.
Will it ever be made? We'll find out later in the year.
Lennox Village Vision:
To celebrate the centenary of Lennox Head in December 2022, the central area of the village will be upgraded, with works starting in the coming weeks.
The main features of the new look and feel of the village will be community-focused spaces, with cars going slower than normal, art and lighting around Park Lane.
The design aims to transform Lennox into a modern coastal village that is focused on people.
Ross park will be upgraded, featuring a flush surface across the roadway, wider footpaths, more seating, an upgraded children's park and a recycled timber deck beachfront chillout zone.
The bay was created when North Wall was constructed at the mouth of the Richmond River to Ballina.
The works included in the plan for this area feature the dredging of the bay (already completed), foreshore improvements along Pop Denison Park, beach nourishment of existing access points around the bay, expansion and rectification works on groynes on the eastern arm along Fenwick Drive, and a path from Compton Drive into Pop Denison Park.
The plan included the creation of a new beach, new shared-paths around the bay and new toilet facilities at Pop Denison Park.
River Street Duplication:
Upgrading the main street of Ballina was never going to be easy, but in order to support the community's growth, council started working earlier this month on dual-lane access along River Street, between the Pacific Highway, West Ballina and Kerr Street, Ballina.
The four-lane road from West Ballina into Ballina Island will double the road's capacity.
The project will be completed in four stages, subject to funding availability.
The first stage involves works from Burns Point Ferry Road Roundabout to Barlows Road Roundabout, West Ballina.
Stage two will see Ballina Island works from Henry Philp Ave to Tweed St in 2020/2021.
Also in this financial year, Stage 3 is expected to cover the construction of the new Fishery Creek Bridge, from Brampton Ave to Henry Philp Ave.
Wollongbar District Park:
Council just approved its own development application for construction of the park in the old drive-in cinema spot, on the corner of Plateau Drive and Rifle Range Road in Wollongbar.
The estimated cost of the project is $1.5M.
The area is expected to feature public amenities and 24 carparks, a skate park, a half-size basketball court, table tennis, a multipurpose circuit path with distance markers
exercise equipment, playground equipment including a climbing net, barbecues and park furniture, landscaping, shade trees and native gardens.
The skatepark will be located next to Rifle Range Road, and will be designed to provide a 'street skating' experience.
Byron Studios is currently using the Alstonville Cultural Centre as a filming set, leased from Ballina Shire Council.
Byron Studios has confirmed it plans to offer more than 1000 jobs for local professionals and to give young residents a start in the industry for the first five years.
Although Byron Studios is hoping to have a multi-building complex near the airport, it is currently able to shoot feature films, series, music videos, children's programs and small to big projects, attracting a variety of clients to the area.
The company currently offers freelance jobs to cameramen, caterers, designers, photographers, post production and long term roles working on their operations, plus actors, carpenters, caterers, electricians, set designers, painters and builders.
Lennox / Skennar Head development:
Beachfront living is the dream the Northern Rivers offers to some new residents, and the corridor between Ballina and Lennox Head will bring hundreds of new lots onto the market in the coming months.
Some of the main examples of this are:
• Aureus: Nested nearby Skennards Head, the developers offer village-style living featuring dining, shopping and green parklands all around.
At the completion of Aureus there will be around 1000 homes in Skennars Head, with two schools and a long day care centre.
• Crest: The prime Lennox Head site, commonly known as 'Reservoir Hill', is on the corner of The Coast Rd, North Creek Rd and Byron Bay Rd and it is expected to include 100 blocks.
• Epiq: Epiq comprises a diverse range of sites, a neighbourhood shopping centre featuring Woolworths, childcare centre, plus sporting and community facilities in Lennox Head. More than 200 lots have been released and sold at Epiq.
Demand is still raging for these and other beachside developments in the shire.
The main artery between Byron Shire, Lennox Head and Ballina is about to get some improvements.
This used to be a notorious Northern Rivers black spot for road safety. A new roundabout was built in 2018, but further improvements are needed to save lives.
As part of Transport for NSW's Safer Roads Program, council will be widening works Ross Lane and Byron Bay Road to improve safety for motorists and cyclists.
The works will include shoulder-widening, clear zone improvements, chevron alignment markers, improved advisory signage and non-skid road surface treatment.
The works are scheduled to begin in early May 2021.
Traffic control and a temporary speed limit reduction will be in place while the works are completed.