Coronavirus dashes hopes of council TAFE site buyout
COVID-19 and land use restrictions have “killed off” Noosa Council’s previous push to secure the Tewantin TAFE site as councillors voted unanimously with Mayor Clare Stewart to end their purchase bid.
Even so, veteran councillor Brian Stockwell said he did so with “a heavy heart” but bowed to the hefty financial impacts on the shire brought about by the pandemic.
Mayor Clare Stewart in her mayoral minute to council’s ordinary meeting, said the public health crisis coupled with ongoing uncertainty with native title issues made the purchase unviable.
Councillors agreed it was an “unnecessary burden on ratepayers”.
“We have already seen significant revenue losses during the pandemic and buying the decommissioned TAFE site doesn’t stop at the purchase price,” Cr Stewart said.
“We’d be committing our ratepayers to a further $1 million to get the four buildings at the facility to a usable state, plus significant upgrade and maintenance costs over the next 10 years.”
Cr Stewart said Noosa MP Sandy Bolton should be commended for her tireless efforts in helping facilitate the sale and giving the community an opportunity to take control of the site.
“Sandy has been briefed as to the reasons why council is not going to proceed with the purchase,” she said.
“It’s been a six-year journey since this facility was closed. Sandy continues her advocacy to ensure the site is utilised for the benefit of our community, and council will assist where it can in these endeavours.”
Ms Bolton said the site offered plenty of opportunities, and that she will not rest until it is operating as part of Noosa’s future.
“It has been a long journey, and to get a decision from council now allows us to work on other options that have been presented over the last months,” she said.
“It’s important that this site now be activated as quickly as possible, and no longer sits in the dilapidated state that has been deeply frustrating for all.
“I look forward to sharing some good news in the coming weeks.”
Cr Stewart said the site’s environmental values were now protected under Noosa’s new planning scheme and the state’s new koala mapping.
“It’s encouraging to know that council no longer needs to purchase the land in order to ensure there are safeguards in place for those value,” she said.
Cr Stewart said the community had put forward some fantastic suggestions for the use of the facility, and at least four independent schools and training colleges had contacted council to express interest in it.
“Now just isn’t the time to commit our ratepayers to such a financial impost, but we still want to see this facility put to use as soon as possible,” she said.
“The quickest way to see the site reactivated is for the state to lease it, as the land title issues do not need to be resolved for this to occur.”