Parents at St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School at Kingscliff have welcomed a move by Tweed Shire Council to defend the school’s playground from being turned into a car park.
At council’s planning meeting on Thursday, councillors unanimously agreed to defend their decision last November not to allow a parking lot at Kingscliff Shopping Village from being extended into the playground at St Anthony’s school.
This followed the lodging of an appeal in the NSW Land and Environment Court (LEC) by managers of the shopping village, Chen Yu Pty Ltd, against council’s decision to reject their development application seeking permission to lease a section of the playground from the Catholic Parish.
They are proposing to develop the northern strip of the school’s playground into an additional 26 car parking bays to cater for staff at the shopping centre, which is anchored by a Woolworths store.
Parents and the wider Kingscliff community lobbied hard against the plan, with a petition drawing more than 400 signatures.
St Anthony’s Parent Forum chairperson Annie Banbury said parents were thankful for the ongoing support from councillors.
‘We are most grateful to councillors for listening to us and supporting our fight to save the playground for our children,’ Ms Banbury said.
‘Our faith in democracy has been restored. We are particularly grateful that both times this issue has been raised in council we have had the support of every one of our elected representatives.
‘Their firm support mirrors the strong resolve of our parents and supporters. We remain as committed as ever to fighting this development application, the future of our children is too important to play with,’ she said.
It’s the second time the shopping centre had sought land from the school, after a significant portion of the playground was leased to the retailer just over two years ago.
Ms Banbury said ‘we have already surrendered a significant section of our playground to the shopping centre’.
During debate by councillors on Thursday, Cr Carolyn Byrne, who moved the option to defend the appeal with Cr Phil Youngblutt, said she normally didn’t support going to court, but she wouldn’t support the car park extension.
Cr Byrne said there were ‘rumours of other development going on in this corner’ and the proposal would ‘potentially give more parking for a shopping precinct’ there.
Deputy mayor Michael Armstrong said children needed ample playing area and ‘if we keep letting playgrounds be taken away and turned into car parks, our kids will suffer’.