John Ibrahimat Bluesfest 2012.
John Ibrahimat Bluesfest 2012. The Northern Star

Reports of Ibrahim family connections to farm and food hub

REPORTS that the colourful Sydney Ibrahim family have been linked to significant investments on the Northern Rivers have set local tongues wagging.

According to reports in the Sydney Morning Herald, Pacific Blue Property Holdings, headed by John Ibrahim's financial controller Margaret Staltaro, has paid $1.45m for a macadamia farm on Hinterland Way, Newrybar.

Ibrahim's property developer friend Bart Elias is also linked to the $20 million dollar food hub development on the outskirts of Bangalow.

The food hub development will be discussed at a joint regional planning panel in Bangalow on Thursday.

While members of his family are currently the subject of an Australian Federal Police investigation into drug and tobacco importation, news of business interests linked to Kings Cross night-club owner, John Ibrahim, have spread like wildfire throughout the community.

John was not arrested or charged in last week's raids.

Bangalow resident Ean Jones said he was pleased the JRPP will hold an open session to discuss the controversial food hub proposed by Chase Lismore Road Pty Ltd.

The planning proposals seeks to house expanding Byron Shire food businesses, with Brookfarm and Salumi as two potential anchor tenants and possible tenants Byron Bay Cookie Company/Byron Bay Fine Foods and Byron Bay Ginger Nectar Company.

Mr Jones said the development application, which is roughly twice the size of Bangalow Fair, has received 500 submissions.

"The fact the JRPP is holding a public meeting is highly appropriate and highly democratic," he said.

"We hope this does not get approved as it could send a very very bad precedent for NSW land owners across the state for putting factories on any bit of farm land."

But independent town planner Paul De Fina, who is engaged by Chase Lismore Road Pty Ltd, said it's all about supporting the region's growth.

Mr De Fina said the Northern Rivers area would continue to experience strong growth as more people flock to the area.

In the original DA, Mr De Fina listed the food hub would cost $20 million including GST, but when speaking to The Northern Star he cited a much higher amount.

"I am working for the company who wishes to build the $36 million development (and) we are talking 300 jobs and people have objected to this," he said.

"I would like my sons to have real jobs, not making coffee for the rest of their lives."

Mr De Fina said he felt it curious Byron Shire had decided to go against the development without making any reports into the viability of the project.

A spokesman for Byron Shire Council said they had recently re exhibited the development application for the food hub for the processing and preparation of food on a 26-hectare property on Lismore Road at Bangalow.

The original development application was placed on exhibition in May last year and a range of issues were raised in submissions including flooding, traffic and access to the site from Lismore Road.

"The applicant submitted further information to Byron Shire Council to address the issues raised, particularly involving traffic and access," the spokesman said.

"Staff are now reviewing all submissions received from both exhibitions as part of the assessment process (and) following this review, staff will compile an independent assessment report for submission to the JRPP for their consideration

and determination of the development application."

Copies of all submissions from both exhibition periods will also be sent to the JRPP for review.

At its August meeting, Byron Shire Council resolved to make a submission to the JRPP opposing the development application, based on the information and detail provided by the applicant.