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Ballina is planning to boom

by Meighan Hetherington of Property Pursuit www.propertypursuit.com.au

Not all of the Mexicans heading north for sunshine and surf are arriving on the Gold Coast. A lot stop off on the way in Ballina, just 1 hour south of the Gold Coast, and never leave! A lot of you may remember Ballina when passing through on the Pacific Highway for the infamous "Big Prawn" towering above the cane fields, which represents Ballina great fresh seafood industry. Centred on an island at the mouth of the Richmond River, Ballina is surrounded by 32kms of white sandy beaches and crystal clear waterways.

Both tranquil seaside hideaway and vibrant holiday resort, Ballina is a fun park for beach lovers, surfers, boaties, anglers and eco-adventurers alike. The Northern Rivers area is rich in culture and boasts six of Australia's precious World Heritage National Parks...dozens of historic villages and towns....hundreds of funky cafes and award-winning gourmet restaurants...scores of galleries, museums, festivals and markets. You never know who you may run into with the like of Delvine Delanie and Stropp, Olivia Newton-John and John Butler all calling the Northern Rivers home.

Traditionally a retiree hotspot, the face and reputation of Ballina is changing as more families move to the coastal haven. In the 2006 Far North Coast Regional Strategy, Planning Minister Frank Sartor suggested another 60,000 people would move to the Far North Coast before 2031. That's a 26 percent increase on the existing population across the region.

To meet the demand, the Ballina Shire Council has been forced to approve and consider many new developments. Late in 2006 an 80 hectare site near Lennox Head sold for more than $50 million to Queensland Company Petrac. It plans to develop a residential subdivision with retailers and a shopping complex. Rolling country west of Lennox Head has also been pinpointed for a 1000-lot residential subdivision. Land in Ballina's CBD has also just changed hands for over $6 million which will be redeveloped into a commercial/retail precinct.

This follows major beautification works done in Ballina's main street and along the beautiful riverfront. You can see some of the more exclusive hotels now filtering through to the area with the 4 1/2 star Ramada now placed discreetly on the banks of the Ballina River.

Ballina currently has the Pacific Highway running straight through the middle of it but is soon to be bypassed - which will be completed within a year with 12.4 km of the Pacific Highway being updated and moved further south away from the Ballina CBD.

As housing prices soar to ridiculous levels in Byron Bay (less than half an hour from Ballina), Ballina is now thought of as the more affordable cousin to Byron with median house prices at $368,000 experiencing 5.1% growth in median price in the 12 months to December 2007 and an average annual growth of 11.5%pa over 10 years. Gross median rent is $300 pw giving a gross yield of 4.2%. In the unit market, median price is $290,000 experiencing 5.1% growth in the 12 months to December 2007 and 9.7% growth annually over 10 years. Gross median rent of $235 pw representing a return of 4.2%.

I must admit these figures are not fabulous but in my opinion, and if you are familiar with the term 'the ripple effect' this is only the calm before the storm!