An additional greenhouse and other facilities could be build in Rous, pending consideration from Ballina Shire Council.
An additional greenhouse and other facilities could be build in Rous, pending consideration from Ballina Shire Council.

Pharma company's plans for $2m facility in Ballina Shire

A PHARMACEUTICAL company is seeking to build a new greenhouse and processing facility on the Northern Rivers.

A development application for the proposed development, slated to cost $1.98 million, was lodged with Ballina Shire Council on December 2.

Viru Investment Holdings Pty Ltd is listed as the applicant for the proposal and Vir Pharmaceuticals founders Joel Hardy and Simon Pettinger are named on the DA as the proposed development's owners.

The proposed development, on a 2.4ha Rous property, includes the alteration of an existing greenhouse and construction of a new 2176 sq m greenhouse, processing facility, fertigation shed, a new dam and on-site parking for 12 vehicles.
The DA also proposed a 3m high security fence.

The application doesn't detail the exact nature of the "intensive plant agriculture" proposed, but the Turramurra-based company is a licenced importer and manufacturer of medical cannabis.

According to a summary of the proposal attached to the DA, the owners hope to "develop the site for an intensive horticulture facility specialising in the propagation, growing and processing of medicinal herbs".

"Vir Pharmaceuticals has expertise in medicinal herb production and is looking to expand its operations," the summary said.

"The Rous Road property was chosen as it fully meets the requirements for plant production and processing, has suitable existing infrastructure and development consent and is well positioned for access to required inputs and markets for produced product.

"A second objective is to ensure through appropriate site design and landscaping, that the

development will be compatible with adjoining and surrounding land uses and will contribute

positively to the local community."

The document said the proposal would have "no appreciable impact upon the natural environment or the amenity of the area" and that the proposed dam would be "non-intrusive".

Some variation from the council's setback rules has been sought, but the applicants have claimed compliance with those standards "will hinder the ability to meet the relevant zoning objectives … and will adversely affect the ability of the development to proceed".

The last DA relating to the property was for the existing greenhouse, which was then owned by a couple growing hydroponic vegetables.

The Australian Financial Review recently reported Vir Pharma was seeking to raise $4 million in a pre-IPO offer, in part to go towards Northern NSW facilities

It's understood the company supplies BioCeuticals, a division of the Blackmores Group.