THE PUBLIC gallery at last Wednesday’s Bega Valley Shire Council meeting was packed as opposition to a proposed private school in Bournda gathered strength.
A recommendation on a development application by Michael Lyons for a private primary school on land at Kulbardi Close, Bournda, was set to be voted on by councillors.
The matter was deferred following a resolution at a council meeting in December and a site inspection by councillors occurred on January 15.
BVSC manager for planning and environment Andrew Woodley noted at Wednesday’s meeting that all issues previously put forward by council staff had now been covered in the DA.
The application seeks to construct and establish a primary school designed to cater for an enrolment of up to 250 students and 20 staff over an eight year period.
Residents of Kulbardi Close opposed to the development, absent from December’s council meeting, appear to have mobilised and presented six deputations on Wednesday.
Jon Theobald, Charles High, Loretta Chapple, Morgan Chapple, Paula Teale and Brian Lamb all spoke out against the proposed development.
Issues raised included privacy and safety, increased traffic and environmental concerns.
Following their deputations, Mr Lyons addressed the council.
He noted he had “cooperated with council staff, had ongoing meetings with staff and been open and transparent throughout the entire DA process”.
Mr Lyons asked why residents were seeking to stop the DA “at the 11th hour”.
After the meeting, Mr Lyons said he had felt “ambushed” by the deputations.
“This DA has been three years in the making and, as I said at council, it’s strange that at the 11th hour residents are voicing objections.
“I was surprised at the number of neighbours who suddenly appeared and it felt like an ambush.
“In July 2012, the council sent notifications regarding the DA to 30 people surrounding our Kulbardi Close property and did not receive one objection, not one.
“Prior to this I conducted formal and informal meeting with neighbours and there were no objections.”
Mr Lyons noted no residents were present at December’s council meeting where councillors voted in favour of having draft conditions of consent put to them after a deferral to make a site visit.
He said the objections presented by residents on Wednesday were “incorrect and irrelevant, and we are now preparing a report to reply to every matter raised”.
The DA will be back before council on March 5 and Mr Lyons said he is ready to fight for the school.
“This school is needed and I’ve had massive interest from parents, it’s something the shire will be proud of,” he said.
“The best way to put it is that it will be built to the ‘laws of nature’.
“It’s about giving children access to the natural world, it’s a healthy school that will offer space and natural surrounds which is very much lacking at other schools in the area.
"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."