Tweed mayor Katie Milne used her casting vote to ensure Tweed Shire Council will defend its recent rejection of a controversial 65-lot housing subdivision on a site long earmarked for a public high school at the fast-growing Pottsville.
Newland Developers has lodged an appeal with the NSW Land and Environment Court over council’s rejection of the subdivision on the site owned by Seabreeze-estate developer Metricon Qld.
Last Thursday, councillors were split 3-3 on whether to defend the appeal, with the National Party faction (Crs Warren Polglase, Phil Youngblutt and Carolyn Byrne) pushing instead for council to negotiate consent orders with the developer.
But Cr Milne had support from Crs Gary Bagnall and Barry Longland to thwart the pro-development faction’s preferred action of appeasing the developer.
Council chief planner Vince Connell had recommended refusal of the development and defending the appeal, as it went against a previous council decision not to review the earmarking of the site for a school before 2018.
The proposed development on the long-identified ‘potential school site’ also clashed with council planning rules for the area requiring a 150m buffer to agricultural land and a 50 per cent road frontage to local parks.
Earlier this month, councillors unanimously rejected the subdivision of the site.
The department of education has long claimed that demand is not yet there for a second public high school on the Tweed Coast.
National Party MPs, including Tweed MP Geoff Provest and education minister Adrian Piccoli, ministers have consistently backed the department’s stand that the numbers aren’t there, but a community campaign backed by Labor and the Greens say a high school is sorely needed now.
Cr Milne said the community had put their case ‘very strongly over many years that this site was too important to lose, especially without an alternative site having been identified’.
She said the Seabreeze development site was approved years ago with a school site identified on the land.
‘Naturally there was an expectation that a school would eventuate. The community has good grounds to be upset by attempts to back track on this plan,’ she said.
‘Young families bought into Seabreeze and Pottsville believing a high school would be built.
‘It’s broken promises like these that make people lose faith in developers and government,’ the mayor said.