As Bungendore High School’s first students began their school year in demountables, approval to build the permanent site has been ticked off.
An alert from School Infrastructure stated the State Significant Development (SSD) application has been approved, with its design also completed.
“The contractor will soon mobilise to start main works on the new high school,” it said.
That’s despite potential legal challenges from those opposed to the project.
“The State Significant Development application for Bungendore High School has been approved, which will allow construction for the new permanent facilities to start, irrespective of any appeals process,” a School Infrastructure spokesperson said.
“Construction is anticipated to start from April.”
The $71 million facility will contain 24 flexible learning spaces, including three support learning spaces, for about 450 students.
There will also be a library, multipurpose hall, covered outdoor learning area, sports courts and outdoor spaces, administration buildings and a canteen.
Monaro MP Nichole Overall said she was excited to see this “vital” community project delivered.
“The new high school will provide a modern learning environment for students in the community now and in the future,” she said.
“That long bus ride to and from high school will be a thing of the past for Bungendore students and I am so happy to see construction begin soon.”
Bungendore High School P&C president Elita Barrett said this was a huge step for local families.
“We are excited to reach this major milestone and next step in establishing the permanent high school facility for the Bungendore community,” she said.
The school currently has 70 students enrolled in years 7 and 8, which are the only two years operating at the site this year, with another 10 enrolment applications being assessed.
However, the project is still divisive in the wider community.
Opposition group Save Bungendore Park has accused the project of being about politics rather than prioritising the town’s needs, and has flagged further steps to ensure it doesn’t go ahead.
“Someone needs to stand up for Bungendore. We will be starting legal action soon and are confident the development application will be thrown out,” secretary Judith Turley said.
“We call on [Opposition Leader] Chris Minns and [ALP candidate] Terry Campese to commit to a full review of the Bungendore High School fiasco. They must investigate what was really behind this bizarre plan, and prioritise the right school, in the right place.”
Mr Campese and NSW Labor were contacted by Region for comment.
Meanwhile, the council has agreed to continue providing access to the Mick Sherd Oval for Bungendore Primary School recreational activities at lunchtime while the high school demountables are on its site.
A similar agreement will continue for Jerrabomberra’s David Madew Oval.
A new school hiring fee of $20,000 per annum has been placed on public exhibition, with the council also noting the Department of Education agreed both Bungendore and Jerrabomberra High School students don’t need access to their respective ovals as “ongoing recreational space”.
Schools Infrastructure NSW has also paid the council $9,727,359 in compensation under the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 – which equates to 90 per cent of the money originally offered.
A QPRC spokesperson confirmed the council had lodged an objection to the offer of compensation through the Land and Environment Court.
“The offer made … is $3.8m less than the claim that council lodged,” the spokesperson said.
“This difference will affect the construction of a proposed replacement pool at the Bungendore Sports Hub along with a new office and community building.”
It also agreed to grant the NSW Department of Education (DoE) a lease for the Bungendore Pool, subject to the compensation equalling the council’s existing claim for the site.
If the terms aren’t agreed, then the DoE will need to follow the compulsory acquisition process set out in the Just Terms Act.
“The Bungendore Pool will close at the end of this summer swim season,” the QPRC spokesperson said.
“Council maintains a lease over a portion of the Bungendore Swimming Pool and is in discussions with the NSW Department of Education about the lease agreement.
“It should be noted that the Conditions of Consent for the Bungendore High School state that prior to the demolition of the swimming pool, the DoE must obtain the necessary approvals for access to the part of the pool that extends outside the site boundary and land acquired by the Department of Education and demolish Bungendore Swimming Pool.”
The community can access the pool until 31 March.
Original Article published by Claire Fenwicke on About Regional.