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The Lismore App

Landowner tells her story about Richmond River High School site

The Lismore App

Simon Mumford

07 June 2024, 8:00 PM

Landowner tells her story about Richmond River High School siteThe new site of the Richmond River High School

Richmond River High School's new site has caused a community uproar following Thursday's announcement that it will be built along Dunoon Road in North Lismore.


The Lismore Facebook Page was inundated with comments from readers outraged at what they perceive as an injustice to the Spinaze and Murray families, the landowners.



"Absolutely disgusting that the government has taken this land off the owners. These 7th generation farmers are being forced out of their property and weren't even given a fair price."


"I can’t understand why the school can’t be rebuilt in its original location, after all, isn’t South Lismore Public being rebuilt in the same location? I feel deeply sorry for the families involved, losing family history and property to forced development is disgusting."


"I just can’t understand how the government can claim land that has been in the family for 180yrs, then offer a very degrading amount of money that will never allow them to purchase a farm and home of the same size, value and location!"



To paint the full family picture, Jane Spinaze and her partner, Craig Murray, have lived in the family house, which was built in 1846, for 22 years. Craig has lived in the house all his life, while his sister lived there initially and later purchased some of the land from her parents. This has been the family pattern since William and Jane Murray moved to Lismore as pioneers of the area.


There are 93 acres of land, combining the two holdings. Beef cattle are run on each farm.


"Eight weeks ago, the Department of Education approached us and opened discussions about purchasing our land," Jane told the Lismore App.


"Basically, this is a forced sale. If we didn’t agree to what was put on the table, we would go to the Land and Environment Court and get the value of the land rates and no relocation. We just had to agree on the price."



"We are not entirely happy with the price. We are not after a massive payout, but we want to purchase something similar, so manageable land, and everything we have looked at means we may need to go west."


"We've been on the land all our lives. We could use the money to buy something in town, but that's not our lifestyle at all."


"I want to remind people that no one owns anything really. If they (the government) want to build a road or build a school, they can."


"We are not against progress, but we did ask why can’t you find another place?"


"We are deeply heartbroken and feel that society has let us down. We feel they could have found another site. It is very emotional and sad that this has happened."


The Department of Education agreed to the terms of the sale with the family this week and is in the process of finalising the formal agreement. They understand the property has been linked to the family for many generations and will allow the family to continue to reside on the property under a lease agreement to minimise the impact of the move. 


 A Department of Education spokesperson said, "The site is not being compulsorily acquired." 


"The design of the buildings at this site will address flood planning requirements. Rebuilding a more flood-resilient Richmond River High Campus is an important step towards realising the community’s vision for public secondary education in Lismore and the surrounding areas." 



Flood resilience  


The Lismore App understands that flood resilience and flood planning was a critical criterion in selecting a site and that other considerations included:  

  • ensuring adequate land size to meet the school’s needs, including a school farm and sports ovals;  
  • and the desire of the RRHC community and local primary schools to retain a public education campus in the existing catchment to support students and families on the northern side of Lismore and outlying villages.  


The Department also recognised that areas and roads in North and South Lismore and outlying areas will continue to experience flooding which may impact operations at local schools, including the new school site, periodically. However, the new site will allow the new, purpose-built RRHC buildings to be built above the Probable Maximum Flood Height (PMF) and the 2022 flood level.   

 

The elevation of the school site and building design will mean students can return to face-to-face learning in their own school as soon as possible if there is flooding in the area in the future.  


This situation has divided parts of the community. Everyone understands and supports the need to rebuild the Richmond River High Campus to return it to its former glory as a respected high school that serves residents in North and South Lismore and those from up the hill in Dunoon or The Channon.


There was always going to be some controversy with the Lismore post-flood rebuild and there will very likely be more in the coming years.



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