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April 21, 2024

Businesses and community groups unite against cop shop

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[author]Steve Spencer[/author]

Despite government approval last year of the existing Kingscliff Police Station as the site for a 24-hour police headquarters, business and community leaders in the area have embarked on a last-ditch bid to challenge it in court.

The newly formed Tweed Business and Residents Focus Group (TBRFG) aims to reverse the approval, granted by a government-appointed planning panel late last year, in the NSW Land and Environment Court, following months of community outrage.

Tweed Shire Council’s attempt to stop the $15 million local area command HQ from being built on Marine Parade was ignored by the Joint Regional Planning Panel, despite many hours of public submissions, with residents, business leaders and former cops all branding the location unsuitable.

Tweed councillors want the police minister Michael Gallacher to spend the government funding for the project on creating an integrated emergency services precinct closer to the Pacific Highway, and either sell the prime slice of beachfront real estate to a developer, or leave the Kingscliff cop shop as a small suburban police station.

Newly elected president of the TBRFG Paul McMahon described plans for the command centre as ‘over-development of the greatest magnitude’.

‘We have named seven respondents who will be called on [in court] to justify why this should be built in the middle of residential homes and units,’ said Mr McMahon.

‘Other than destroying residential amenity with a 24-hour station operating 108 staff, there are many other reasons why the Marine Parade site is totally unsuitable.

‘We are asking that the police minister take this over-development in the seaside village back to the drawing board and work with the Tweed Shire Council to locate a site that is more central to service the residents of the Tweed-Byron area.’

Controversial push

However, the bid to stop the Kingscliff project has involved a related and controversial push by leading National Party figures on the Tweed, including Cr Warren Polglase, to rezone prime farming land at Cudgen for the command centre.

The Cudgen land, in which longtime former National Party MP Don Beck has an interest, is one of five options Tweed Council recently voted for as potential sites for the HQ.

NSW Upper House MP Walt Secord recently likened the figures behind the repeated attempts to rezone the Cudgen land to characters from the Aussie hit movie Muriels Wedding.

The 1994 film parodies the controversy surrounding a former Tweed council and its former deputy mayor Tom Hogan, a Labor powerbroker who was found to have acted corruptly by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

Mr Secord called for any decision over the future of the land to be made by an independent body.

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