Mitchell Shire Council's draft Broadford Structure Plan outlines a residential development for the Broadford Pine Plantation, on Gavan Street. Residents have started a petition against the development.

By Jackson Russell

A petition to stop the Broadford Pine Plantation from being split in half and turned into a residential development has gathered more than 700 signatures in less than a week.

In the draft Broadford Structure Plan, released for public consultation two weeks ago, Mitchell Shire Council noted the four-hectare site in Gavan Street as one for possible future development.

Under council’s preferred development outcome, the State Government-owned site would be split down the middle, with one half sold for a 40-lot residential development which would then fund the other half’s development into a public park.

Broadford resident Adrian Reeders started the online petition to draw attention to the draft document and retain the entire site for public use.

The land is located adjacent from Broadford Secondary College, bordered by White, Gavan, Piper and First streets.

It is currently managed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, DELWP, and is zoned for public use.

However due to the over-grown state of the land, residents last year called for it to be cleaned up and deemed it to be a ‘fire hazard’.

According to the draft plan, council will refuse to purchase the land as it cannot afford to purchase the land and develop it into a park, and the State Government would organise the tender process.

Mr Reeders, who lives across from the site, said what surprised him most about the plan was the fact only 50 per cent of the site would be available to the public when the whole site was currently available, the size of the lots, and the small window for submissions.

“If you look at the map, some of those blocks are absolutely tiny,” he said.

“If you look at the other parts of the plan, they’ve got the proposed new primary school location in Jefferys Lane, and that’ll have a lot of kids coming to the high school and if they come through the plantation, they’ll have a nice, safe bypass to walk through.

“I don’t think it’s going to get well known enough for people to make submissions before the deadline.

“My concern is council could sneak this through without people realising.”

Some Broadford residents, including Mr Reeders, believe the site was once owned by the Broadford paper mill and donated to the State Government for public use.

“To take that land that was donated for public use and selling 50 per cent for housing doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of the donation,” Mr Reeders said.

According to DELWP, however, the land was a former gravel site that was declared surplus but was never donated and remained crown land.

Mitchell Shire Mayor David Lowe said the draft Broadford Structure Plan was a detailed plan to guide Broadford’s future development.

“We have a number of key strategies identified inside the draft plan, such as areas for residential growth, an employment precinct and proposed upgrades to the town centre,” he said.

“The draft plan is a proactive approach to accommodating the future population growth of Broadford.

“As with any plan of this nature, we welcome all feedback from our community. We have been working in consultation with the Broadford community since 2018 drafting this plan and its various components.”

DELWP was contacted for comment but did not respond before deadline.

Residents can learn more about the draft Broadford Structure Plan and make submissions at engagingmitchellshire.com/broadford3658 while Mr Reeders’ petition is available at http://tinyurl.com/pineplantation.