For the first time, flood authority uses its planning powers to get DA sorted for small school

The community came to support the Save Broadwater School campaign at the Broadwater Community Hall.

Susanna Freymark

“Day 1 next year, the kids will be back in school,” State MP Richie Williamson said to the community gathered at Broadwater Community Hall tonight, Saturday, July 6.

A new school for Broadwater is imminent.

The Broadwater Public School has been operating out of portable classrooms at the Evans River K-12 School in Evans Head and the Broadwater School P&C has been fighting for the village school to reopen after it flooded in 2022.

P&C secretary Emma Crethar said they had spent a lot of time getting different departments to talk to each other to get site approval.

Mr Williamson has visited the school many times and has been advocating for its reopening with the education department, ministers and the NSW Reconstruction Authority.

Mr Williamson said he had hoped to “come here tonight and say it’s approved.”

“If I come back next Saturday, I’ll be able to do that.”

Mayor Robert Mustow, MP Richie Williamson, parent Emma Crethar and a teacher from the kindergarten. Photos: Susanna Freymark

One of the hold-ups in getting the school operational again was that the NSW Education Department had lodged a development application with Richmond Valley Council.

Mr Williamson worked to get that changed.

“The RA will now own the DA,” he said.

“For the first time the RA will use their legislation to approve the DA next week.

“The DA which is with the council will be withdrawn.”

The classrooms are being built off-site and will be moved to the current Broadwater School site.

The classrooms have been pre-built elsewhere.

The buildings have to be demolished first.

“We’re not quite there,” Mr Williamson said.

Mayor Robert Mustow said the government never should have lodged the DA with the council.

Ms Crethar said it was a relief to have the DA approval moving forward.

Inside the new classrooms.

This was the first time in NSW that the Reconstruction Authority had used its planning powers in this way.

Mr Williams said the RA chief executive Mal Lanyon had gotten the issue to this point. Once the DA was approved by the RA, the school was knocked down and the ready-built classrooms were brought to the site, Broadwater will have its school back.

And come first term next year, the 52 students will be back at their own school. That will be something to celebrate.

Parents have been fighting to reopen Broadwater School since the floods.

The posters used to highlight the plight of the school. Photo: Contributed

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