LOCAL infrastructure upgrades to the tune of more than $2 billion has Ballina in the box seat for growth as a hub for baby boomers, according to a new research report.

A report by Broad Research and Advisory suggests Ballina’s status as a retirement destination is in for a major boost, with investment in transport networks and key services set to attract empty nesters seeking a sea change in a well-established and connected location.

Researcher Paul Broad said with improvements to road networks, a major upgrade to the local hospital and more frequent flights from Ballina to the southern capitals, the region was increasingly becoming a sought-after destination for retirement.

“Ballina is a well-established town which provides all the conveniences that can be found at traditional retirement hot-spots without the congestion and often prohibitive cost of living,” Mr Broad said.

“Significant highway upgrades between Ballina and Tweed Heads are improving the drive time and safety of the commute to the Gold Coast and Brisbane and this is really resonating with people who are considering a sea change from south east Queensland.”

Paul and Mary Blanch are among the Baby Boomers who have made the move to Ballina after selling their home in Canberra last year.

Mr Blanch said he and his wife first made the trip to the north coast in 2007 where they decided the relaxed lifestyle and the amenities of Ballina made it the perfect destination for their retirement.

“We were really drawn to Ballina because it provided a great lifestyle balance for us, with plenty to keep us occupied without the bustle of city living” Mr Blanch said.

“We have family who live in Brisbane so the improved commute to the Queensland border certainly played a part in our decision to move here.”

Access to Brisbane will be further improved later this year when the $862 million upgrade of the 17 kilometre Tintenbar to Ewingsdale section of the Pacific Highway is completed.

It will adjoin the northern end of the recently completed $640 million Ballina Bypass.

Further investment in the region includes an $80 million upgrade to Lismore Base Hospital, which will see the significant expansion of the Emergency department, a new ambulance drop-off, and a new renal dialysis unit.

The Ballina Gateway Airport handles approximately 20,000 flights per annum, with regular services to Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle.

Encouraged by the town’s resurgence, Brisbane-based developer Reside Living has laid plans for a $31 million apartment project which it plans to pitch to downsizing empty nesters.

The project will take shape on the Ballina Riverfront and offer 36 apartments and 794sqm of commercial space.

Offering apartments at close to a third of the price of other waterfront locations in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, the project and its location will provide the services, conveniences and amenities sought-after by the baby boomer market.

Reside Living general manager of development Simon Green said the report’s findings augured well for the development as it progressed towards its launch.

“The baby boomer market has selective criteria when looking to relocate – they’re looking for a complete lifestyle rather than just a home,” Mr Green said.

“The ability of the project to meet these needs is greatly enhanced by the investment that has been made to infrastructure and essential services in Ballina.”