Tweed shire councillors will today decide whether to allow a controversial bid for a 65-lot subdivision on land earmarked for a high school at the Seabreeze estate, Pottsville.
Council planners have recommended refusal of the bid by developer Metricon, but the issue is set to be decided by new Greens’ mayor Katie Milne’s casting vote as the pro-development majority on council has backed the bid previously, giving a 3-3 split.
The long-running campaign by parents at Pottsville for what they say is a desperately needed high school has met with stiff opposition from National Party MPs, including Tweed MP Geoff Provest and education minister Adrian Piccoli.
New mayor Katie Milne, new deputy Cr Gary Bagnall and former mayor Barry Longland have consistently backed the community and council staff to keep the land in Seabreeze Boulevard for a potential high school for the fast-growing area in which many young families live.
Council’s chief planner Vince Connell says the plan should be refused because the site has long been identified for a potential school site and the proposal is not consistent with a 2013 council resolution that the earmarking of the site for a school should not be reviewed before 2018.
Mr Connell says other reasons for refusal include inconsistency with the development control plan for the area identifying the site for a potential school, and the lack of 50 per cent road frontage to local parks for home sites.
The plan also has insufficient buffers from agricultural land and a local sewer pump station.
He says that 41 submissions were received by council objecting to the
proposal mainly because the site had long been identified for a high school.
Many families bought homes at Seabreeze after they were told by the developer that the Seabreeze Boulevard site has been set aside for a school.
The issue was recently raised in state parliament by Labor, which with the Greens, also back the community’s wishes for the site to remain for a high school.
But Nationals’ MP Mr Provest and Mr Piccoli,when pressed about the issue in parliament, backed the state education department, which maintains there is not sufficient demand for another government secondary school in the Tweed.
Mr Connell said in his report that ‘the department’s projections to 2020 indicate that demand will be relatively stable, with continued surplus capacity’.
He said approval for the subdivision could not be given until the NSW Rural Fire Service provided conditions, but the Department of Primary Industries had provided general terms of approval.
In summarising, Mr Connell said that considering the plan was inconsistent with both council’s development control plan
and council’s previous resolution and that ‘no new information has been provided by the applicant to demonstrate that the use of the site should be reviewed; the number of submissions received by council objecting to the proposal; and issues raised by units within council, it is considered appropriate that the application be refused on the information provided to date.’