Battles in Bungendore for voices to be heard

Michael Weaver 24 August 2020 2
Welcome to Bungendore sign highway.

Welcome to Bungendore, which is open for business as the village becomes a town. Photo: Michael Weaver.

“In Bungendore, we just don’t feel like we have a voice,” said former councillor Judith Turley, who was part of the Palerang Shire Council before its merger with Queanbeyan in 2016. “It’s our own fault, let’s face it.”

However, the voices in Bungendore are getting louder as people from the surrounding areas of Bywong, Wamboin, Sutton and Carwoola also have their say.

Some people are long-term residents who want to keep Bungendore the way it has always been: a village.

Bungendore is a steadily growing town that is predicted to triple its population in the next 30 years – according to the Bungendore Structure Plan – from about 4600 in 2019 to around 12,000 by 2048 as part of a ‘high growth scenario’.

Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) Mayor Tim Overall said the focus for Bungendore is to retain its heritage while balancing the need for medium-density housing.


READ ALSO: Council calls for Bungendore to be like Braidwood


At the heart of the town is a passionate community, but one without its own community association as can be found in nearby Bywong, Wamboin and Braidwood, the latter of which lobbied for a $400,000 playground at Ryrie Park, which opened in 2019.

On the agenda in Bungendore is a long-awaited high school near Mick Sherd Oval, a sports hub on the town’s western edge, and a car park where battlelines are being drawn over QPRC’s purchase of green space to make way for the facility in the town’s centre.

There is even indecision about whether a proposed roundabout should have a garden bed.


READ MORE: Bungendore gets its high school but not everyone’s happy about the done deal


A motion last week by Greens QPRC councillor Peter Marshall asked council to cease clearing elm trees leading to the proposed sports hub. However, because he was unable to get someone to second the motion, it never saw the light of day.

The trees were cleared last week.

Heavy machinery clearing elm trees at Bungendore.

Contractors clear elm trees at the western edge of Bungendore to make way for the town’s proposed sports hub. Photo: Michael Weaver.

Councillor Mark Schweikert is a Bungendore resident and he told Region Media the town’s heritage is not being altered by the current works.

“The idea is to promote Bungendore to tourism,” he said. “That can’t be achieved if there is nowhere to park, no sporting facilities and the town floods every time we get big rains.

“We do need an injection of heritage funding as there is no reason why Bungendore couldn’t become to Canberra what Bowral is to Sydney.”

Mr Schweikert doesn’t support people pushing to retain the village green, which has been sold to council to make way for the proposed car park.


READ ALSO: Bungendore residents seek compromise on car park conundrum


“I support the car park 100 per cent,” he said. “It is absolutely needed. There is still plenty of green space, such as Frogs Hollow, the Turallo Creek corridor and Elmslea Ponds. The new sports hub will also open more green space to the community than ever.

Alix Burnett, who runs a business on Malbon Street (Kings Highway), says there is no car parking issue in the town, and construction of the new car park would only further hurt businesses hit hard by the past summer’s bushfires and COVID-19.

Ms Burnett and a group of concerned residents have formed the Bungendore Residents Group, but are having limited sway when it comes to influencing the QPRC decision-making process.

The group has also taken its concerns to the town’s local newspaper, Regional Independent, which has been steadfast in refusing to publish letters to the editor.

The group says it has more than 400 signatures on a petition to keep the village green where it is and held a public meeting about the proposed car park on Friday, 21 August.

Residents of Bungedore gathered to discuss the proposed high school at Mick Sherd Oval.

Residents of Bungendore discuss the proposed high school at Mick Sherd Oval on 14 August. Photo: Michael Weaver.

Judith Turley, who runs Millpost Farm, just out of Bungendore, said concerns about proposals in the town are not being listened to.

“We’ve seldom had many councillors from the village and we don’t have a community association, but this issue of the village green and car park has brought a lot of people together,” she said.

“We didn’t make the protest about it when council was consulting; we should have done it then, but it isn’t too late to change and it will change if there’s a motion before council.”

Mr Schweikert also said people have only been taking an interest in local government affairs after it’s too late, despite numerous public exhibition periods.

“There is no representative group and those that do exist seem to have a pecuniary interest in the development or otherwise of the town,” he said. “It’s a shame to see as there are a lot of good people who have the town’s best interests at heart who are being hoodwinked by special interests.”


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2 Responses to Battles in Bungendore for voices to be heard
Daniel J. Fitzpatrick Daniel J. Fitzpatrick 10:05 pm 23 Aug 20

Ahh modern planning....All part of the new society, where every single person thinks their opinion has as much importance as trained and studied experts.

We are a democracy sure but too many people think that only goes one way, their favour. We need a community association that can employ experts to listen to the community but also present the facts of a situation empirically!

Tan Choi Heng Tan Choi Heng 3:24 pm 23 Aug 20

Brad Fraser Sam Cook Ong Jun Kiat Urban Planning, Place Management and The Role of Residents.

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