Nambucca Shire councillor Paula Flack.
Nambucca Shire councillor Paula Flack.

New school site fails safety test

IN its first public hearing in the Nambucca Shire yesterday, the NSW Government’s Joint Regional Planning Panel refused an application to build a school on flood-prone land in Macksville.

Speaking to the Advocate after the meeting, Nambucca councillor Paula Flack said the panel had agreed with the council’s own planning department and voted to reject the development application.

“The reasons for the rejection were mainly to do with concerns regarding the evacuation of children during floods,” Cr Flack said.

“However the chair also raised the issue of the council’s liability.

“He said the council didn’t have an insurance policy to cover the development of the school in a high hazard flood zone and could have been vulnerable.”

Cr Flack said while she had spoken strongly against the development, it felt like a bitter-sweet victory.

“I would love to see a new school and the associated investment in Macksville, or anywhere in the shire, but this site was just too heavily constrained.

“I hope those who make these decisions for St Patrick’s are able to return to the drawing board and find a more suitable site for the relocation of the school.”

At its council meeting at the end of March the council voted to notify the JRPP of its in-principle support for the development.

At that time, the mayor Rhonda Hoban said she and the majority of the councillors felt confident the flood issues could be resolved.

The following week the council’s own department of planning forwarded its report to the JRPP recommending refusal of the application.

St Patrick’s Primary School is seeking a new site for the school as it has outgrown its current Wallace St site.

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