While the development of a new primary school to be located in Kulbardi Close, Bournda awaits the approval of the Bega Valley Shire Council, the proponent says it will be a decision for the community as to whether the project ultimately proceeds or not.
The school is designed to cater for an enrolment of up to 250 students and 20 staff over an eight year period. On site sealed car parking for 70 vehicles is proposed. It will be a non-denominational school and will not promote a specific philosophy or concept such as a Steiner or a Montessori school.
The developer, Michael Lyons, of Bournda, told the News Weekly, ”It comes down to the point that the community must ask itself does it want a new school in the future.” He said that question should be addressed by the residents of Pambula, Merimbula and Tura Beach as the 2013 Bega Valley Local Environmental Plan does not allow for the development of a school among its zonings.
Mr Lyons, who lodged his development application prior to the gazettal of BVLEP 2013, said that his 72.97 hectare site that covers three lots in Kulbardi Close was zoned appropriately for construction of a school. He has owned the land for 30 years.
Councillors inspected the site on January 15 this year.
While the project has progressed to the Development Application (DA) stage, it still has some way to go as if it were to be approved by the council, Mr Lyons then faces the task of raising the finance to build the school.
The DA has met with strong objection from some neighbouring residents as was witnessed at council’s meeting on Wednesday, February 12, when seven residents spoke about their concerns. At the conclusion of their addresses, Mr Lyons addressed the council.
In keeping with council’s meeting protocol, the matter of the DA was deferred to enable council staff to consider points that were raised in the addresses.
Speaking on behalf of residents A and A High, Charles High said the development was not in the spirit, nor consistent with the 1(a) rural zone. “Land holders moved to a quiet land setting to enjoy the ambience provided by this zoning. We feel a development of this magnitude will destroy the amenity of Kulbardi Close.
“Will this mean speed changes to existing 100kph and school speed restrictions. This would slow traffic flow on this busy road thereby increasing traffic noise,” Mr High said.
Kulbardi Close resident Loretta Chapple’s address primarily focused on the impact the development may have on the local flora and fauna.
”Has it been fully investigated as to what impact the removal of mature vegetation corridors such as the one in Kulbardi Close, connecting through to Bournda National Park would have on threatened species?” she asked. She said her enquiries lead her to believe that more discussion, and investigation was needed into that aspect of the proposal.
She said apart from the flora and fauna the “impact on our life will be huge”.
“This is all about the impact that the development will have on sensitive flora and fauna, residents facing major impacts over a sustained period and the community of the Bega Valley Shire,” Ms Chapple said.
As a mother of three privacy and safety were Paula Teale’s main concerns.
“Twelve years ago my husband and I found a little slice of heaven in Kulbardi Close.”
Ms Teale said should the development go ahead “our privacy would be catastrophically affected”.
She said they had carefully sited their home to ensure the least disruption to their lives. The constant traffic and noise during construction and when the school opened would “seriously impact on our lifestyle and steal our privacy”.
Ms Teale said the family enjoyed the freedom of feeling safe in their rural setting. “We have not needed fences as neighbours share a similar mentality. This would no longer be afforded if the proposal proceeds,” Ms Teale said.
“Impacts on privacy, safety, lifestyle, native flora and fauna, pollution national parks and sacred Koori sites all need serious thought when a DA of this size is proposed.”
In addressing the residents’ concerns Mr Lyons said that school traffic will use a private entry road. “There will be no school traffic passing the two neighbours’ houses at the northern end of Kulbardi Close. The third house at the southern end of Kulbardi Close will experience increased general traffic on Sapphire Coast Drive.”
He said that neighbours’ houses cannot be seen from the school site and there will be 150 metres of parkland between Kulbardi Close and the school site.
“A Noise Report stated that noise levels from the school site and traffic would be well below acceptable levels.
“Neighbours’ houses face east away from the school site and their amenity in that direction would not be affected.”
Mr Lyons said there were no objections or submissions to the first notification of the proposal in July 2012 which was sent to 30 properties. “Many supported the proposal.”
Since the DA was lodged in June 2012 Mr Lyons said he had maintained an open and transparent communication throughout the DA assessment period with all parties.
“We believe the school is the best option (for the site, particularly for the long term benefit of everyone.
“I have resided on my property for over 30 years – from before the creation of Sapphire Coast Drive and Kulbardi Close and watched Tura Beach grow from only a few houses.
“No doubt there will be pressure on our land in the future and we feel a school is the best way to preserve the natural beauty of the location as opposed to perhaps a subdivision of houses or commercial activities.”