New telecommunications tower to service Coffs Harbour Education Campus

A 25m high Optus telecommunications tower will be installed opposite Coffs Harbour Education Campus to provide better communication services to the educational facility. Photo: Emma Darbin.

 

THE installation of an Optus telecommunications tower at Advocate Park, Coffs Harbour to service Coffs Harbour Education Campus (CHEC) and surrounding schools has been narrowly approved by Coffs Harbour City councillors.

A development application for the telecommunications facility was originally presented to Coffs Harbour City Council for determination at a Council meeting on 22 October, 2020.

Concern was raised at the meeting over whether the tower would be situated too close to local schools, and whether educational institutions in the surrounding area were aware of the proposed telecommunications facility.

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At this meeting, determination of the development application was deferred to allow for further engagement with adjoining landowners and the proponent regarding adherence to the relevant industry code of conduct.

The tower includes a 25m monopole, with three aerials on top, and exceeds Council’s Height of Buildings control of the Coffs Harbour LEP 2013.

It will be situated on Council owned land on the southeast corner of Hogbin Drive and Stadium Drive, opposite CHEC, and will primarily provide coverage to CHEC, as there are currently no local base stations servicing the area effectively.

Axicom Pty Ltd site acquisition manager Emma Browning spoke in support of the new telecommunications tower at Council’s ordinary meeting on Thursday 11 March.

“The new telecommunications facility is intended to specifically provide improved Optus coverage and network capacity for the Coffs Harbour Education Campus,” Ms Browning said.

“Optus cannot service the campus from existing base stations in the area and requires a new base station to service the campus.

“The new facility will also future proof mobile services for the new residential development areas.”

Ms Browning said the height of the tower was required for “technical reasons”.

“Our proposal is broadly compliant with Council planning requirements, except that it exceeds the height limits for this area,” Ms Browning said.

“The height of the facility will not have an adverse impact on the local area.

“Because the facility will operate at very low power there is no requirement for the facility to be located away from local schools.”

Cr George Cecato supported the position of the new telecommunications tower and said he “would not contemplate sacrificing those young lives” by not providing them with the communication they deserve.

Cr Keith Rhoades also supported the new telecommunications tower.

“We still have black spots, and that’s one of them,” Cr Rhoades said.

“What goes into that Education Campus is high-tech stuff, and you need good communication.

“I can’t see any reason why this should be rejected; it’s a positive.”

Cr Paul Amos, however, believed the tower should be located at CHEC.

“I can’t be supporting this in this instance because I believe that the CHEC would be the major beneficiary, and I struggle to come to terms with the concept that they can’t find something on their own premises,” Cr Amos said.

“Also the visual pollution, nowadays we can be a little more sophisticated.

“This is more of a clumsy solution nowadays to a problem in the middle of suburbia.”

Cr Tegan Swan said the development application wasn’t compliant with industry guidelines, due to it being located too close to local schools.

“In all reality I think as a Council and a community we need to say ‘there’s these guidelines that are required of you and you have an expectation that you will meet them regardless of whether you’re legally required to or not’,” Cr Swan said.

“I would like to see us follow those best practice guidelines and require more of the industry, because they will rise to the challenge.”

Councillors narrowly resolved to support the request to vary a development standard of the Coffs Harbour Local Environmental Plan 2013 for the variation to Height of Buildings standard, and approve the development application for a telecommunications facility at Advocate Park, Stadium Drive, Coffs Harbour.

Crs Denise Knight, Michael Adendorff, George Cecato and Keith Rhoades voted for the new telecommunications tower, and Crs Paul Amos, Tegan Swan and Sally Townley voted against it.

Cr John Arkan was absent from the recent Council meeting.

 

By Emma DARBIN

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