The 10 local families who built the Ramada Hotel & Suites Ballina Byron and collectively own 85 of the 115 rooms at the hotel have spoken in defence of the application for extension of use.

“In keeping with Ballina’s award-winning Town Centre Development Control Plan, we are applying to extend the use of 94 of the 115 rooms to allow for residential use as well as tourist use,” said Bryan Marriott, Company Secretary of Slipway Properties Pty Ltd, the developer of the hotel.

Whilst the extended use would allow for permanent occupancy of the apartments, only a small proportion would be lived in by owners, according to Mr Marriott.

“Most would remain in the hotel letting pool and be used by owners for holidays only,” he said.

Glen Stotter from Ballina Booking Service, who manages the Ramada franchise as well as bookings for the hotel, has confirmed this in a letter to Bllina Shire Council, stating that with the proposed extension of use ‘We expect not less than seventy five per cent of allotments to remain in the letting pool over the longer term. With 115 Rooms and Suites, we therefore expect not less than 86 to remain in our letting pool’.

Under the current ‘tourist use’ zoning, owners can stay in their apartment for up to 150 nights a year, as long as no more than 42 nights are consecutive.

The extension of use will mean that the apartments in the hotel will become considerably more accessible for purchasing.

The global financial crisis has all but dried up finance for properties with a ‘tourist use’ only approval and, if finance is available, only 50% of the purchase price is able to be borrowed.

If the apartments are designated ‘residential’ as well as ‘tourist’, up to 90% of the purchase price is able to be borrowed by approved purchasers at substantially reduced interest rates.

“The 10 local families identified the need for, and constructed, an apartment hotel in Ballina and our company now needs to sell the remaining apartments,” Mr Marriott said.

“We are strongly of the view that the majority of these will remain in the hotel letting pool, meaning there will be no jobs lost. We further believe there is no reason the Ramada group would withdraw their name from the business.”