Council knocks school plans on head

There will be no primary school built at Kulbardi Close, Bournda following a decision by the majority of Bega Valley Shire councillors at Wednesday’s council meeting to refuse the development application lodged by Kulbardi Close landowner Michael Lyons.

Some of the reasons councillors gave to support refusal centred on such things as:  a school was out of character with the area; that its development may have required the introduction of a 40kph speed limit on Sapphire Coast Drive within 100 metres from the proposed school site and much weight was given to the prospect that all school children would have to be conveyed by car or bus to the site because of its remoteness.

The proposal mustered the support of only two of the eight councillors present (Cr Britten was absent).

Cr Tony Allen moved that the development of a school be approved and this was seconded by Cr Russell Fitzpatrick.

Cr Allen said that councillors had inspected the site and there was “wonderful space” to accommodate such a facility. He said that the zoning was appropriate.

“This has been before the council for the best part of two years. All the requirements requested by the council of the developer have been met.”

Cr Liz Seckold said she was against the proposal because of the “likely  social, and environmental impacts”  that it might generate. She questioned its suitability on the grounds of location, and public interest given its likely negative impact on residents.

Greens councillor Keith Hughes said he was inclined to agree with Cr Seckold reasons for refusal based on social and environmental issues. He  also voiced concern that the school would not be within walking distance for students.

Cr Fitzpatrick said he thought that a new school would be “a good outcome for the area”.

“It is not inconsistent with the zoning. The proponent has met every obligation requested of him by the council.”

Mayor Bill Taylor said he didn’t oppose the proposal per se. “The point is it is out of character to the area. Schools need to be integrated as part of an urban environment.  The kids can’t walk to school - their attendance will be totally dependent on motorised transport.”

Cr Allen said while the development was out of character with the rural landscape, if development is to happen in the shire that was something that the council in the future will have to embrace. “It may not fit the scenario today, but it is the future that we must start thinking about.”

With regard to concerns that children would be unable to walk to school,  Cr Allen said: ”I don’t know of many kids that walk to school today; it’s not like it used to be. I don’t think that is a valid reason for refusal.”

He said the information provided by council staff had “nothing in it to cause the proposal to be rejected.”

The News Weekly asked developer, Michael Lyons if he would like to comment, but he declined.

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