A site for a future high school for the fast-growing Pottsville area remains on the drawing board after Tweed Shire councillors last night rejected state education department advice that it was not needed.
The department’s number-crunching on the need for a high school there flies in the face of residents who say the population is growing fast with many young families moving in. They say the potential site was also included in the original concept plan for the estate 12 years ago.
Major developer Metricon last year proposed to turn the long-earmarked high-school site at its Seabreeze estate into residential zone for around 160 dwellings, and an amendment to allow that was approved by the previous council and advertised.
But last October, the newly-elected councillors at their first meeting resolved to reject the plan and requested the education department undertake an updated needs analysis for a high school, using the latest census figures.
The department recently responded, saying high-school enrolment demand for students in the Pottsville area ‘has been relatively stable in recent years and shows there is not enough demographic demand to require another government secondary school in the Tweed Coast LGA (local government area)’.
The department also noted that the number of primary-school students living in Pottsville ‘is not sufficient to require a third primary school at this point in time (considering the existing Pottsville Beach Primary School and recently approved non-government school in Charles Street, Pottsville)’.
The department told council planners it would continue to ‘monitor education needs’ in the Pottsville area.
Chief planner Vince Connell in his report last night recommended adopting the draft development control plan (DCP) for the estate, which included the removal of the designated potential future school site, a greenfield, six-hectare lot.
But Cr Carolyn Byrne moved to reject that advice, therefore retaining the site.
Cr Byrne said that once houses were built on the block, there was ‘no going back’, and other new housing in the west Pottsville area was already boosting population there.
She questioned the department’s advice, saying it had suggested Kingscliff High School was not yet at capacity but she was hearing from other sources that it was.
She said the estate housing was sold to people on the understanding there would be a new high school built, and councillors had ‘heard loud and clear that the Pottsville community wants to retain that site’.
Cr Byrne said another different high-school site may be identified in the future as suggested by planners and the department but the current site at Seabreeze should be retained.
One resident told Echonetdaily the growth in the area, and therefore the need, was obvious and that ‘more than 800 new homes had been built there since 2005, mostly lived in by young families’.
Another said their vision for their families when they bought in to Seabreeze ‘included local high-school education’.
The vote to retain the site was unanimous.