The masterplan of a proposed Catholic school at Westbrook.
The masterplan of a proposed Catholic school at Westbrook.

Council questions need for new Toowoomba school

OFFICERS at the Toowoomba Regional Council have questioned the need for a proposed school in a burgeoning area just outside the city.

The council's planning department recently submitted an information request in response to a plan for a new K-12 school fronting onto Shoesmith Rd in Westbrook by the Diocese of Toowoomba Catholic Schools Office.

The application, submitted in June, came after years of complaints and requests from the Westbrook community about the need for more public infrastructure, including a new school.

But in the information request, TRC development services principal planner Matthew Coleman listed nine issues the council had with the application.

Chief among them was the proposal's placement outside the priority investment area (PIA).

"The proposed development is outside the PIA as defined in the council's Local Government Infrastructure Plan (LGIP)," the request said.

The ultimate proposal is for an Urban Purpose (Educational Establishment) requiring the provision of five trunk infrastructure networks, and is not consistent with the council's current infrastructure planning.

"As such, council officers require an understanding of the infrastructure requirements for the ultimate development and anticipated impacts on the council's planned trunk infrastructure networks."

The request also asked the applicant to explain how a new school was required for the Westbrook area, noting its placement in a rural zone.

"The applicant is requested to provide a planning need assessment report, prepared by a suitably qualified professional, demonstrating an overriding planning need for this development in this locality and at this site," it said.

"The development application has not demonstrated how the proposal may support future orderly development by integrating with the future extension of the Westbrook urban area consistent with current plans and policies, such as the council's non-statutory West Toowoomba Land Use Investigations December 2016 and State Government's Shaping SEQ South East Queensland Regional Plan 2017.

"The applicant is requested to submit a site and context analysis and a structure plan to demonstrate how the proposed development supports and does not compromise future orderly development."

The council also asked for reports into stormwater management, traffic flow, wastewater and bushfire hazard reduction.

The issue of the PIA was highlighted at a recent meeting between councillors and members of the Toowoomba development industry, who called on the TRC to expand the area to fast-track growth.

Hallmark Property Group's Ian Knox also recently announced he was mothballing his 1500-lot Fernleigh subdivision at Westbrook, after the council cut the development back to an "unworkable" model.

The Diocese of Toowoomba has yet to respond to the information request.

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