Tweed Shire Council has paved the way for the rezoning of land used for a dog racetrack on the NSW-Queensland border at Tweed Heads which hardware giant Bunnings wants to expand onto.
Councillors last week approved sending the proposal for the rezoning of the Border Park Raceway site to the planning minister for determination under the government’s ‘gateway’ policy.
Planners say the rezoning of the land to a mix of business and private recreation will facilitate the development of
job-generating enterprises for the site, adjacent to the Gold Coast Highway on the NSW side of the border, opposite the Southern Cross University campus at Gold Coast Airport.
The site will retain the raceway and will have a future connection to the nearby industrial area at Ourimbah Road, Tweed Heads, as well as a traffic-light intersection on the Gold Coast Highway.
Bunnings currently has a warehouse store at South Tweed Heads but plans to expand to the larger site fronting the highway and, which under the plan, would be allowed to build to a 40-metre height limit in the 10-metre height-restricted zone.
Chief planner Vince Connell said the 40-metre height limit was applied ‘to facilitate reasonable built forms consistent with the B7 (business) zone’ and ‘will encourage incremental development of the site towards a Business and Research Park and facilitates a mix of uses such as short term accommodation (serviced apartments), commercial office space and research space that will establish a strong nexus with the Gold Coast Airport and Southern Cross University’.
The Tweed Heads Coursing Club based at Border Park backed the plan which would give the struggling club financial relief.
Several years ago, the club made a move with a developer to build a $5.6 million greyhound racetrack at Murwillumbah in a deal which fell through.
The current rezoning proposal for the Border Park land is seen as a lifeline for the old club and a solution to Bunning’s planned expansion in the shire.
The master plan for the site, prepared over a two-year period, was placed on public exhibition earlier this year and received 25 submissions from the general public and government agencies.
Issues raised included traffic management around the site, height limit, alternative uses (one proposed the site could be turned in to an indoor velodrome with the dog stables used for bike team rooms), and loss of public open space and recreation area as the local population grows.
Two endangered ecological communities (EECs) on the site include a swamp sclerophyll forest and a freshwater wetland, and planners have recommended a buffer of a minimum of 20 metres to be revegetated to protect them.
Mr Connell said the public consultation had not raised any critical issues which could not be ‘suitably addressed through the associated development control plan (DCP) and further detailed assessment at the DA (development application) stage’.
He said the plan ‘highlights a number of strategic benefits in the redevelopment of the site: Establishing employment generating uses on the subject site; Activating the frontage of the site to the Gold Coast Highway; Reducing traffic going through residential streets; Providing a connection to the Gold Coast Highway that may ultimately connect through Ourimbah Road; Opportunities for increases in height over the subject site; and the ability to retain and enhance the operation of a longstanding raceway facility and keep it active in the Tweed’.
Crs Barry Longland and Warren Polglase successfully moved to send the report and its recommendations to the planning minister and to amend local plans to include site-specific controls. Crs Carolyn Byrne and Phil Youngblutt backed them, while Cr Gary Bagnall was absent to due to illness.
The revised and more detailed plan will again be exhibited for 28 days, with a further report made to address submissions.
New mayor Katie Milne had opposed the plan and failed in her bid to defer the matter for a workshop to ’consider the potential for public open space to be included in the rezoning and further discussion about buffers’.