A decision by Tweed shire councillors to preserve a site at the Seabreeze estate in Pottsville for a high school for the fast-growing community there has been welcomed by locals.
Councillors were applauded on Thursday when they voted unanimously to reject a bid by the estate’s developers and site owners Metricon Queensland for a 65-lot housing development on the site at Seabreeze Boulevard, and preserve the site instead for a high school till at least 2018.
Pottsville Community Association (PCA) president Chris Cherry said it was heartening to see the councillors ‘stand strong on the need to retain the land for a high school’, as promised by the developer when the estate was originally approved.
The council decided to maintain its resolution of February 2013, which preserved the site for a high school, and to ssess the development bid for more houses based on that.
Cr Warren Polglase told councillors on Thursday that it was obvious the developer was looking for a refusal of its 65-lot housing plan for the site in order to contest the issue in the NSW Land and Environment Court.
But Cr Katie Milne argued that ‘there are some things worth fighting for’ and Cr Barry Longland said it was ‘time to stand and be counted’.
There were some reservations among councillors, with Cr Phil Youngblutt saying he believed the community would ‘lose’ if the issue was battled out in court, but voted with other councillors to reject the developer’s new plans for the site.
Ms Cherry told Echonetdaily ‘a promise has been made to the community’ and that ‘people bought into the estate on the understanding that a school would be built on the site’.
She said the community of some 7,000 people ‘have an expectation that a school will be provided for their children’.
‘Now the development application (DA) to build 65 homes on the school site will be assessed by council officers against our planning controls, but the question is: would the addition of 65 homes would be a better planning outcome for this land than the placement of a piece of future infrastructure for our community?’
Parents in the southern Tweed Coast area have for years been campaigning to keep the Pottsville site available for a high school.
It was also a major issue during the last state election campaign, with Labor backing community calls for the site to be kept for a school, and the coalition backing the education department’s justification for not buying the land for a school.
The education department had told council it was unlikely to buy and use the site as the numbers weren’t there to support a high school.
Earlier this year, Metricon advertised the proposed housing development for the site in a national newspaper.
Echonetdaily has sought and is waiting for a response from the estate’s project manager on the council decision.