By Margaret Maccoll
Noosa MP Sandy Bolton was excited to hear the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training had opened an expression of interest (EOI) process for the re-use of the former Tewantin TAFE site.
She said all submissions were commercial in confidence but if possible she would look forward to seeing a shortlist of submissions in the new year.
Ms Bolton said previous EOIs on the site at 24 Cooroy Noosa Road, Tewantin, had all been of a very high quality, all adhering to the need of the education space and she expected the same parties would re-apply and other join them.
She said the site had lay dormant waiting for Council to make a decision and movement on it was delayed while the government was in caretaker mode during the State Election campaign period.
Due to the work of Ms Bolton Council was provided with “first option“ to purchase the site.
In July Noosa Council decided to stop negotiations to buy the former Tewantin TAFE site on 24 Cooroy Noosa Road from the State Government.
Council cited the restrictions on the use of the property due to Native Title and environmental protections and the uncertainties caused by COVID19 as reasons for the decision not to proceed with the purchase.
The Tewantin TAFE campus was constructed in 2004 by the Queensland Government, its state-of-the-art building winning a Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) award. It opened in 2006 with 716 students and shut in 2014 with 256 students, many studying off-campus.
Since 2014 it has mostly sat idle and been subject to vandalism and building deterioration.
A flora and fauna assessment of the site commissioned by Council identified suitable habitat for threatened species, including koala, glossy black cockatoo, vulnerable wallum frogs and endangered swamp crayfish.
Under the New Noosa Plan and State Koala Conservation Plan the site is identified as an area of biodiversity significance and a koala priority area, limiting future development to the existing cleared footprint of the former TAFE campus.
In 2018 Council formally offered to purchase the site from the state for $1.7m with funds to be sourced from the Environment Levy and general cash reserves. The state disclosed that Native Title still applied to the site requiring the state to enter into an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with the traditional owners, the Kabi Kabi people prior to the purchase proceeding.
Council determined previously identified options for the site including aged care, Tewantin cemetery expansion, as a Council Depot or for Council administration would be unlikely to be feasible due to development constraints and environmental protections but there may be potential for commercial business use or opportunity for education providers.
Anyone wanting to submit an EOI can register to receive site information or submit their proposal and supporting documents by emailing ISD.Corro@desbt.qld.gov.au. Submissions are due by 11.59pm on Sunday 31 January 2021.