Tweed Shire Council is set to approve the building of a public Men’s Shed at the Black Rocks sports fields south of Pottsville, despite years of opposition by campaigners wanting protection for the Tweed Coast’s dwindling koala population.
Councillors next Thursday will decide on the staff consultant’s recommendation to go ahead with the controversial proposal for the Pottsville community Men’s Shed, which was subject to petitions and protests since it was first mooted several years ago.
The development is set to get the green light with the pro-development faction, which has always pushed for the shed to be located at Black Rocks, in majority, with support from Cr Barry Longland.
And in a bid to remain at arm’s length from the contentious plan, council, which owns the land and is the proponent of the development, engaged a consultancy firm to undertake an independent assessment of the development application (DA), due to its ‘sensitive nature’.
A staff report says council received a petition with over 350 signatures and more than a dozen submissions objecting to the plan for the shed, associated parking, drainage and signage on the fields in Overall Drive.
The isolated four-hectare site, surrounded by a large swathe of protected wetland wildlife habitat, was zoned for public recreation when the it was created as part of the staged Black Rocks Estate subdivision approved by the state planning minister in 2006.
It was then dedicated to Tweed Shire Council for the purpose of a sports field as per a 2003 deed of agreement between council and the developers.
The site has a sealed road and bike/pathway with a lockable gate, traffic calming devices and lighting which connects to Overall Drive in the nearby Black Rocks Estate.
The Pottsville and District Men’s Shed Incorporated, staff say, selected the site in consultation with the NSW Department of Primary Industry (Lands), Tweed MP Geoff Provest and council.
Last year, council backed the group’s request to build and run a Men’s Shed facility at the fields, but later opted to grant them a five-year licence until a more permanent, longer-term site was found. They also stipulated the shed be a fully demountable one.
Council staff say they also tried to find alternative sites in the Pottsville area but were unable to identify any suitable and secure facility ‘to offer daytime recreational services to men within the shire’.