Pottsville Mens Shed members squashed into their current premises at the Pottsville Primary School.
Pottsville Mens Shed members squashed into their current premises at the Pottsville Primary School. Scott Powick

SPECIAL REPORT: Serious concerns about Lot 3 site

TWEED MP Geoff Provest has thrown cold water on a proposal to relocate the Pottsville Men's Shed to Crown Land at Lot 3, Centennial Dr.

Mr Provest said this week the proposal by environmentalists, with the support of Tweed Mayor Katie Milne, to locate the Men's Shed on vacant land behind the Rural Fire Brigade and State Emergency Services stations was unlikely to be a goer.

He said the land, which is subject to Native Title claim, had further environmental question marks over it.

"Crown Lands are coming back with a report on a list of potential other sites,” MrProvest said.

"But the initial report is indicating that any of those other sites have Native Title that needs to be addressed and also have environmental concerns.”

Mr Provest said in addition Lot 3 was "rumoured to have asbestos in the ground there” and the fire and emergency services did not want the Men's Shed to operate behind their stations.

"We are just investigating other opportunities,” MrProvest said.

"I am getting very mixed messages from council. They are investigating other land they are going to ask a company to assist in obtaining but I haven't got anything formally back from council.”

Mr Provest said he was "very supportive” of the Men's Shed and criticised Tweed Shire Council for its part in the process.

"Ever since council's been involved in the last four years, all they've done is divide the local community,” he said.

"I think people should realise the good (the Men's Shed) do, helping people with depression and giving them a purpose in life.”

Mr Provest said it was unfair of the council to "flick it back” on him but said he would be more than happy to see it debated in State Parliament should the Men'sShed petition reach 10,000 signatures.

Geoff Provest headshot.
Tweed MP Geoff Provest. Liana Turner

But last November the Tweed Shire Council voted to defer its decision on granting a licence to the Pottsville and District Men's Shed for the proposed shed at Black Rocks sports field.

The council confirmed the delay in the decision was regarding whether the current council, which was elected on October 29, 2016, wanted to issue a lease agreement to the Men's Shed for the land in question.

During the council meeting on November 18, the council deferred its decision, requesting instead that Tweed MP Geoff Provest seek more information related to the process by which Crown land has, to date, worked to help the Pottsville and District Men's Shed find a permanent home.

The council also asked Mr Provest to provide a diagram identifying all potentially available Crown lands in Pottsville, a list of further sites that could be investigated for the purposes of a permanent home for the Pottsville Men's Shed and advice on the suitability of these sites.

Mayor Katie Milne said this week the council was waiting on Mr Provest's response.

"Geoff's really running the show at the moment,” Cr Milne said.

"I've had discussions with him and I think something really good is going to come of it. It's in his court.”

Pottsville Men's Shed members Roy Dunstan, Michael Ryan, Les Hardy, Peter Howell all want to see the Black Rocks site approved.
Pottsville Men's Shed members Roy Dunstan, Michael Ryan, Les Hardy, Peter Howell all want to see the Black Rocks site approved. Aisling Brennan

Timeline: The Black Rocks Estate at Pottsville, was developed by the Pottsville Development Corporation:

1962 - Council report with aerial imagery from 1962 shows the Black Rocks sports field and broader area was sand mined and the subject area was scarce of vegetation.

Mid-1990s - Initial stages of the development of Black Rocks Estate are approved in multiple stages by the council.

January 2006 - Council approves Black Rocks sports field as Part of Stages 13 and 14 by the New South Wales Department of Planning.

April 2006 - Construction certificate for bulk earthworks issued for sports field.

February 2010 - The subdivision of the sports field is released.

November 2013 - First informal meeting of interest of the Pottsville and District Men's Shed is held.

March 2014 - First formal Pottsville Men's Shed meeting is held.

March 2014 - Men's Shed is told by Crown Lands there is no available land at that time but Lot 3 Centennial Dr might become available in the future.

April 2014 - Pottsville and District Men's Shed originally approach council regarding the Black Rocks site.

June 2014 - Men's Shed meets with then-Tweed Shire Council Mayor Barry Longland to discuss site options, including Lot 3 and Black Rocks.

March 2015 - Council receives the report on the summary of the major planning and subdivision approvals for the Black Rocks Estate from 1992 to 2015.

December 2015 - Council approves the Men's Shed on the Black Rocks Sports Fields.

November 2016 - Council defers the decision on lease agreement with Pottsville Men's Shed.

February 2017 - The Men's Shed continues to wait for council's decision about the lease agreement for the Black Rocks site