TAFE BID: The Tewantin site last used as a polling booth.
TAFE BID: The Tewantin site last used as a polling booth. Alan Lander

Council bid to buy disused TAFE site, put back to good use

NOOSA is making a bid to buy the abandoned Tewantin TAFE site for $1.7million.

Mayor Tony Wellington last night at council's ordinary meeting was to put forward an 11th hour "mayoral minute” for a purchase motion that was expected to pass.

A successful motion would see council staff continue negotiations with the Queensland Government regarding for a sum no greater than $1.7million excluding GST.

The council plan is to purchase this strategic site from the environment levy reserves and general cash reserves, with the amounts from each to be determined as part of the budget review process.

The mayor said Member for Noosa Sandy Bolton's efforts to expedite negotiations for a sale resulted in contact being made by the state last Friday.

"Council's director corporate services was thus informed that the state would welcome a purchase offer from Noosa Council,” Cr Wellington said.

"It is understood that this offer could be significantly less than the market value contained in the valuations performed for both the state and council.

"The possibility exists for council to purchase the site and recoup all costs through council on-selling the land, with possible subdivision or binding covenants protecting the vegetation and habitat where required.

"Alternatively, an appropriate business case may be made for council to retain the ownership of the site and thus leasing part or all for a range of uses. Again this would ensure that at-risk vegetation was protected and the final use was of broad community and local economic benefit.”

Cr Wellington wants council CEO Brett de Chastel to provide a report to a future council meeting on potential options for future use of the site.

"Council must consider the overarching financial ramifications of purchase of the TAFE site. Making the site available to community groups - even if there was demand - would be unlikely to assist in covering the purchase, renovation and ongoing maintenance of this facility,” he said.

Cr Wellington said population and demographic projections indicate a "commercial appetite may exist with respect to some form of aged care/retirement village development in the near future”.

"Council may also be open to making the site available for light industrial or commercial uses, should an appropriate business case be made. Expansion of education opportunities is a focus of council's local economic plan.”

Cr Wellington said the site may be considered suitable for educational use such as adult education or specific vocational training.

"An investment of this kind presents a range of opportunities for council to progress a significant site and facility in the best interests of the community, while acknowledging that some risk exists around the ultimate financial outcome,” he said.

"There has been considerable community interest in the future of the site, and the mothballing of the facility remains a source of frustration for many residents.”

The former TAFE facility comprises four main buildings, blocks A through D, linked via covered areas and walkways, a work shed, with the facility supported by onsite road and water/waste water infrastructure.

"Vehicle access is available via a boom gate at the Cooroy Noosa Rd frontage and a bitumen sealed driveway with 95 car parks on site. The site is mapped under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 as high risk for protected plant species.”

The mayor said a council site inspection confirmed the presence of endangered vegetation ecosystem over the majority of the site, excluding the TAFE footprint and golf course encroachment to the west of the site.

"The site is mapped as essential habitat for koalas, wallum rocket frogs and glossy black cockatoos,” he said.

"Any potential development of the site that results in vegetation clearing may require referral to the state.”

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