A Gateshead school has agreed to spend $150,000 to buy a parcel of Lake Macquarie Council land it has maintained since the 1980s, after the council said it discovered the school was using the site.
The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle will buy about 1600 square metres of land that the council says St Mary’s High School has been using as part of its sporting fields. While the diocese says the triangular shape of the land meant it was unsuitable for sports, a spokesman said the fact that it bordered the school “might create the impression that it is part of the field”.
A council report released this week called for councillors to go ahead with the sale.
The land, wedged between Kennedy Creek and the school grounds, was dedicated to council in 1966 as a public reserve by the Department of Housing.
“It came to council’s attention that part of council’s land ... was being utilised by St Mary’s High School, Gateshead as part of their sporting field,” the council report noted.
Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser said council found the school was using the block as a result of rezoning a piece of the diocese’s adjoining land at Birkwood Close in 2013. She said selling the land was council’s preferred option because its location between a drainage channel and the school made it inaccessible.
“The parcel of land has been reclassified to allow a sale to occur and the parties have agreed on a price,” Cr Fraser said.
“A report recommending the sale was endorsed by the Corporate Services Committee [on Monday] and will be considered at the Ordinary Council meeting on October 23. Following that meeting, council will provide contracts to the church to finalise the sale.”
The diocese spokesman told the Herald that the school had mowed, cleared and maintained the block of land since the 1980s to keep the area free of snakes and safe for students.
“There is also a Landcare partnership between the school and the Lake Macquarie Council which has been in place since around 2006,” he said. “As part of this Landcare partnership, the school has planted hundreds of trees and native shrubs on this block of land and – together with council – continued to maintain this block of land.”
The diocesan spokesman said the sale would allow the school to run a stormwater drain through to Kennedy Creek.