The Belle General co-owners (left to right) Sarah Baldin, Kayla Plummer and Jacqui McCoach, pictured on the cafe's opening day in 2015.
The Belle General co-owners (left to right) Sarah Baldin, Kayla Plummer and Jacqui McCoach, pictured on the cafe's opening day in 2015. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Belles weep in relief after council lets them keep working

BELLE General cafe co-owner Sarah Baldwin says she and her sisters cried with relief when Ballina Shire Council yesterday allowed them to continue operating in their current form.

The cafe owners had to lodge a development application to double the cafe's seating and open at 7am instead of 8am after investigations revealed the cafe on Shelly Beach Rd was operating outside its conditions of consent.

Council staff recommended refusal of the application.

BACKGROUND: The sisters behind Belle General

Issues included "unreasonable impacts" on nearby residents in terms of noise, odour and car parking.

But in a 6-4 vote at yesterday's council meeting, the application was approved, with some modifications.

The Belle General will be allowed to open at 7.30am instead of 8am.

The total number of seats will be capped at 49, the disabled toilet will have to be redesigned, and the waste facility relocated.

Judging from some of the comments on this page yesterday, the Belles will have a lot of happy customers this morning!

Posted by The Northern Star on Thursday, May 28, 2015

Owners will also be required to "take all reasonable steps" to direct customers to use public car parks which do not have residential frontage.

Ms Baldwin said the approval was good news.

"We are really happy with the result - it was what we hoped for. We cried after the vote," she said.

"It's been extremely stressful ... we're just so relieved the uncertainty is over.

Ballina councillors have voted to let the Belle General stay in its expanded, extended form.

Posted by The Northern Star on Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"We will be working with the council to resolve any concerns from our neighbours. But most neighbours and the community have been 100% behind us.

"We want to be here for the long term and we want to have good relationships."

However, local resident Julie Casey told councillors she and others "paid a lot of money" to live in the area.

Should Belle be allowed to be bigger?

Posted by The Northern Star on Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"We don't just come here for a coffee," she said. "This is our life. We live here."

While saying the business was great for Ballina, she argued it had outgrown its current location.


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