14 September 2023

Brindabella Christian College using uncertified structures as classrooms, community association says

| Lizzie Waymouth
Join the conversation

Brindabella Christian College opened its redeveloped junior school in 2018. Photo: File.

UPDATED 13 September: Brindabella Christian College has provided a statement (edited for length) in response to claims from members of the Lyneham community, that the school is using uncertified, undocumented demountable buildings as classrooms, moving them to a site currently approved for a maintenance shed.

“The latest divisive attempts by bitter and vexatious individuals centre around the relocation of pre-existing historic College demountables on our Central Campus, that every school uses to deal with rapid growth, all of which were legally placed on site over time.” Brindabella College board chair Greg Zwagjenberg said.

“My ultimate advice is, it is sad these attention seeking individuals continue looking for relevance in constantly digging for whatever dirt they can find on the College, it will only lead themselves to fall into the hole they are digging, a better pursuit of their spare time is highlighted in Philippians 4:8 …whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”

12 September, 6 pm: Brindabella Christian College appears to be using uncertified structures as classrooms, information gathered by the Lyneham Community Association suggests.

The Association said it had received confirmation from Access Canberra that two demountable buildings, known as ‘Block C’ by the school community, are not certified and do not have documentation. Rather, the site in question is reportedly approved to be the location of a ‘maintenance shed’.

It alleges these buildings were required to be removed in accordance with the development application for the new junior school which opened in 2018, but were instead moved to the southeastern corner of the site, which had been reserved for a shed.

The Association says this raises issues about pupils’ safety and wider implications regarding unchecked enrolments and traffic safety.

According to emails shared with Region, Access Canberra said there had not been any building approvals lodged for the relocation of demountables between 2016 and 2018, but a shed had been approved.

aerial images of school

Aerial photos of Brindabella Christian College from 2016 and 2019 suggest the building has been moved. Image: Supplied.

The Association alleges Brindabella Christian College provided false or misleading information to the ACT Government and is using an unapproved structure as a classroom.

When the development application for the junior school building was approved in 2016, one of the conditions was that it must not be used until the two demountable classrooms were permanently disconnected.

The reason was to ensure that enrolment numbers would not increase as a result of the new junior school building.

READ ALSO Territory Plan for ‘gentle urban growth’ criticised for not going further

“The representors … raised concerns that the school may not … remove the two demountable type classrooms following the completion of the new school building, and that these buildings may still be used as classrooms and may increase the student numbers resulting in a greater demand on available parking and increased traffic, particularly on Brigalow Street,” the Planning and Land Authority’s Notice of Decision said.

The Association says the demountable buildings were not removed and instead were relocated to the southeastern corner of the block on the site reserved for a shed. It says that following the relocation, the buildings immediately resumed use as classrooms and are used as classrooms to this day.

READ ALSO ACT Legislative Assembly announces district boundaries for 2024 election

According to documents shared with Region, in 2018, architects SQC Group sent photographs of the “sub-main demountable building” electricity being switched off, but the Planning and Land Authority deemed this insufficient evidence

By early 2019, the demountables appeared to have been relocated to the southeastern end of the block, which can be seen in ACTmapi and Google Earth imagery.

In April 2019, SQC sent a written statement and photographs of the location of the two demountables as evidence they had been removed.

However, the Association says this information is misleading as they had, in fact, been relocated and continue to be used. Aerial images from 2022 suggest the temporary classrooms remain in place.

aerial photo of school

Aerial photo of Brindabella Christian College as of 2022. Image: Supplied.

According to the Notice of Decision, “the proponent claims that the proposed development will accommodate existing students … therefore these buildings will be demolished once the proposed building [the junior school] is completed”.

However, the Association has pointed to the significant increase in enrolments since 2016.

ACT Government schools census data shows that enrolments increased significantly in February 2016, with 200 additional students enrolling compared with February 2015.

Brindabella Christian College was contacted for comment.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

So many ‘first time caller, long time listener’ posts here. Almost like it was co-ordinated.

Did Greg Zwagjenberg happen to include the ‘Certificate of Occupancy and Use’ for the demountable classrooms in his statement to you? Or any other documentation to reassure the concerned parents and school community members that the buildings are safe for students? Surely if it’s all above board and legal, like he reckons, he should be able to find a single bit of evidence?

I am a longtime Lyneham resident and this association does not speak for me. Their unrestrained NIMBYism has no place in the inclusive inner North.

Solomon Kaddu11:27 am 13 Sep 23

Don’t you get tired of chasing this school? Aren’t there any positive stories about it? Surely the parents aren’t crazy to keep sending their kids here.

Geoff Hallinan9:19 pm 12 Sep 23

BCC management’s arrogance in regularly ignoring it’s planning regulation obligations is appalling and raise basic questions of ethics. Given that the ACT government appears to allow this institution to get away with it, raises similar questions.

lynehamlover6:27 pm 12 Sep 23

Q: What’s the difference between a garden shovel and a BCC student? A: According to the BCC, nothing!

This is so dodgy by the college, but by now I am not surprised.

I’m sure the parents have something to say about their kids being treated with the same care and safety as shovels

Harley Quinn10:33 am 16 Sep 23

Perfect comment 👏🏼

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.