General News

25 January, 2023

Council bows to State plea

SOME of the conditions for the new State Government-funded netball facility at Atherton High School have been deleted or modified after Tablelands Regional Council was told the project may not be viable if the conditions imposed upon the development were not changed.

By Robyn Holmes

Council bows to State plea - feature photo

The Department of Education asked for two conditions to be deleted related to the use of a council-controlled car parking area and the proposed pedestrian linkage to the car park from the facility. 

It also requested that part of the noise condition be deleted because it would cause un-certainty as to the operating hours of the sporting facility should council get complaints from neighbours.

While officers recommended council hold firm on its original conditions, councillors were not in agreeance, despite hearing from local resident Tammy Petersen who pleaded with them to reduce the operating hours of the facility in the evening, citing noise as the biggest concern for neighbour-ing properties.

“We get noise from the hall when they have events but it’s bearable because of the trees and distance between the hall and the residences,” she said.

“And it’s not the noise during school hours that we’re worried about, it’s after school hours. We have a number of shift workers who have very early starts and the noise level at night is a concern – how that is going to interrupt sleeping.

“We thought maybe planting trees around the edge could absorb some of that noise.”

Ms Petersen said increased traffic was another worry.

“Then there’s the traffic increase and noise from that. It’s very busy already at peak times but our concern is after school hours.’

“And we know they are not going to park in the internal car park because of the distance between the carpark and the facility - it will be the parking just near us.”

But Cr Peter Hodge said correspondence from the department made it clear that unless some of the conditions were not deleted or modified, there was a danger the project would not go ahead be-cause it would no longer meet the criteria for fund-ing by the Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport.

“They are spending $3 million to $4 million for this structure – what this means it costs nothing to the council, nothing to ratepayers, there is no operational costs – it’s fully funded by the State.

“But the advice from the department is that the conditions would impact on the viability of the project, the objective would be severely impacted, and the project would likely not proceed under the current conditions.”

One of the main sticking points for the department was that if council received a complaint about noise, officers would have the power to suspend activities beyond 7pm at the facility until they received a report showing compliance with noise levels and any measures to be taken to reduce the noise.

In a letter, a consultant acting for the department said the current conditions related to noise would “affect the ability of the proposed development being able to meet the funding criteria by introducing the uncertainty of a potential restriction of the use to 7pm”.

This was because senior netball games would be unable to be played during the week as they typically had to start after 6pm due to work commitments and travel time from towns like Ravenshoe and Millaa Millaa.

“In addition, the potential restriction of access to existing public car parking would introduce operational restrictions that are a further cause for concern,” the letter stated.

“The impact of the imposed conditions on the intended operation of the facility is that Tableland Netball Association... would not be able to provide the required number of games and game times to accommodate the demand based on a 7pm restriction.

“On preliminary assessment and discussion, the entire project is at risk as the project will be unable to meet the intent of the funding program.”

Cr Hodge moved that council delete the car parking condition, reduce the conditions imposed on the pedestrian linkage construction, and retain the noise condition but he was intent that if the facility’s activities were going to be suspended due to noise complaints, the decision must be made by councillors.

Deputy Mayor Cr Kevin supported his stance, saying if operations were to be suspended past 7pm, then “it has to come back to councillors – it has to come from us, not officers”.

Council voted unanimously to change the conditions.


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