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Council ignore plea

Friday, 26th September, 2014

By Andrew Robertson

Councillors have ignored a couple's public gallery plea and agreed to lease part of the North Family Play Centre for Telstra's unwanted phone tower.

The decision means the site opposite the aquatic centre now appears almost certain to host the 10-storey tower, regardless of any public backlash.

Telstra has been blocked at every turn in its efforts to find a home for the structure which is needed to improve the coverage and capacity of the telco's mobile network.

Its preferred location in Chapple Lane was rejected by Council when more than two dozen neighbours complained, and opposition from residents also stopped it from going up in another area.

Telstra told Council that the North Family Play Centre appeared to be the "only possible" alternative for the monopole.

But it warned that the community was unlikely to support the location and urged Council to consider the likely backlash before allowing the proposal to proceed to the development application stage.

A couple who live near the aquatic centre and play centre told councillors at Wednesday night's monthly Council meeting they should reject the plan.

Ian Hutchinson, reading a letter from the public gallery on behalf of the couple, Wayne and Dinitee Haskard, said it would reduce attendance at the aquatic centre and stop potential projects in the area from going ahead.

It would also affect an adjacent proposed residential housing subdivision because no-one would want to buy land so close to a telecommunications tower, he said.

Councillor Bob Algate said he sympathised with the Haskards but that the tower had to be put somewhere and that the play centre "seems to be the most appropriate spot".

Mayor Wincen Cuy said after the meeting that Telstra would now need to submit a development application which would be open to public comment.

Telstra still has a lease agreement with the owner of the Chapple Lane site and has six months to appeal Council's decision regarding that site to the Land and Environment Court.

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