Meander Valley Council's classification could have mislead people over Teen Challenge rehab centre

SCHOOL SITE: The former Meander Primary School which is leased to Teen Challenge Tasmania. Picture: Paul Scambler
SCHOOL SITE: The former Meander Primary School which is leased to Teen Challenge Tasmania. Picture: Paul Scambler

A “misdescription” by the Meander Valley Council, regarding a drug rehabilitation facility at Meander, could be why more people did not get involved in the planning process, according to documents from the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal.

On June 8 the tribunal ruled that the permit given to Teen Challenge Tasmania to create Home of Hope, a residential service for women and their children, was not valid.

The council’s decision to approve the facility was appealed by Bronte Booth’s Timber World, and financially supported by fundraising from the Meander Area Residents and Ratepayers Association.

The appeal was upheld on the belief that the counciul had incorrectly categorised the facility as hospital services, not residential services and that the notice given by the council inaccurately specified the content of the development application.

The tribunal’s ruling said the council was required to accept that there would not be inpatients as it was a “factual assertion” and solely within Teen Challenge’s knowledge.

“Council ignored that material and put its own gloss on the unambiguous submission of the developers as to what was proposed,” the tribunal said.

“All of the content (of the development application) points to a service providing a program offering lifestyle support. The live in nature of the program does not morph the residents undertaking the program into in-patients receiving heath services.”

The tribunal also accepted the submission from Timber World that the council was in error when it issued the planning notice.

“The Appellant contends that the misdescription would or could mislead or deflect attention from the substantive proposal and may not excite an interest in those persons who may wish to find out more about the proposal in circumstances where they might have, had an accurate and correct description been provided,” the ruling said. 

“There is a relevant difference in the way in which the notice describes the proposal, and the way the proposal itself is described in the application.”

RMPAT also said it was correct for Timber World to draw attention to the religious or spiritual component of the program because it served to distinguish the use from activities ordinarily associated with the provision of health services.