8 June 2008

Development of former school sites across ACT

| mattcross
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The ACT Government has got GHD (a consultancy) doing online consultation on the Bang the Table site to ask people what they think about recommended uses of former schools. Some have development of houses, others commercial and others community uses. This is a chance to speak up and to stop the over development of these precious community sites.


There are pages for 8 sites Cook, Weston, Melrose, Holt, Village Creek, Mt Neighbour, Rivett, and North Curtin.

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It wasnt directed at you Mouthface – you dont actually agree with me so I dont want you to do anything at all! Please continue to just talk…

You tell us mattcross!!! How lazy of us to sit here just talking… unlike you, action man!

We vote you to get active on our behalf.

You guys make me laugh – happy to whine away here where nobody who counts is listening but not actually prepared to do anything about it. How many of you have written a submission? How many of you have posted to the consultation site? How many have been to meetings about this? If we dont get active and we just complain to each other nothing will change. 🙂

Skidbladnir said :

peterh said :

kills 2 birds, 1 stone.

Before any dragway goes ahead, there will need to be a humane rights of the animal investigation (by commitee) on the death of these two birds, and an environmental impact statement on the movement of the stone.
There may also need to be a focus group held with the female impersonator community to see if it appropriate to use the term ‘drag’ in relation to a government-sponsored facility.

seems to me, you know the inner workings of the act govt far too well….

peterh said :

kills 2 birds, 1 stone.

Before any dragway goes ahead, there will need to be a humane rights of the animal investigation (by commitee) on the death of these two birds, and an environmental impact statement on the movement of the stone.
There may also need to be a focus group held with the female impersonator community to see if it appropriate to use the term ‘drag’ in relation to a government-sponsored facility.

pereh, with you on that

@ Skibladnir’

That’s a fair call, and as I said in an earlier post I don’t support the decision, but now that it has been made there may be a chance to to apply a reasonable judgement and assume that there won’t be any further closures in the near future. Remember that the kids are going to be in primary school for only about six or seven years and some level of reasoning would be able to identify those schools that are on shaky ground and those that are not. Ok its not a perfect situation, and I honestly feel for the people that it has affected, but I think you would probably agree that in some cases there is no possibility of re-opening the schools, so the question remains: what to do with the surplus asset?

mouthface said :

also, where the hell is your dragway???

I am not saying I want to go to watch drag runs, I just want the suburban hoons that do doughnuts, fishies and burnouts to have somewhere to bugger off to. If you get elected on a promise, that the community is so passionate about (how many bumper stickers say ” I want a dragway and I vote”) granted, mostly in kambah, deliver. what about next door to the jon stanhope holiday park – aka the gaol? gives the prisoners something to watch, they are under a flight path…. “kills” 2 birds, 1 stone.


mouthface said :

Mini baby booms happen quite often as older suburbs go through a demographic change and families like yours move back in. That certainly is a case to keep the schools open, but once again, the critical mass may just not be there to make it viable.
…why move from Canberra rather than just to a suburb – or house – that caters to your needs?

For exactly the reason you outline above, I’m guessing.

It really was a scorched earth move, that has left entire communities second-guessing government policy, and with less faith that their decisions today will be upheld by Government action in future.

also, where the hell is your dragway???

peterh, this is always going to be a problem with a city as sprawled as Canberra.

Mini baby booms happen quite often as older suburbs go through a demographic change and families like yours move back in. That certainly is a case to keep the schools open, but once again, the critical mass may just not be there to make it viable. Sounds a little tough for you, but without sounding like a smartarse, why move from Canberra rather than just to a suburb – or house – that caters to your needs?

Another point that may have not been considered, I don’t know how much research went into the government decision to close your local school, but could it be possible that the community’s behaviour has changed regarding transport for school children? When my child was in primary school (5 yrs ago) most of the kids that lived within an easy walk to school were being driven by parents. The actual need of local kids that walk may be even lower than those that simply live in the area because mum or dad drive them anyway. It may not actually affect those kids that much that their school is in the next suburb, just piss the parents off that they have a five minute drive rather than a one minute drive ( I am not saying that is the case with you).

At any rate, a rejuvenated ‘urban village’ environment in your neck of the woods may increase the chance that you have a video shop, and a decent takeaway.

I bought my house because there was a pre-school and primary school at the end of the street.

There was also a florist, video shop and a takeaway.

(great when I did wrong, pick up flowers, some soppy movie and dinner prior to confronting very angry wife)

Now, the florist and the video store are gone, the takeaway has been sold to new owners who don’t seem to know about massive toppings on pizzas – what is wrong with you people?? and the primary school is closed.

I have now 3 kids under 4 – birthdays recently, have to change the under age, and I am expected to trek to a primary school either over the other side of a very busy road, or to the other end of the suburb.

the site is sitting vacant, and I am one of 5 families with kids that will need to go to school soon. (I am in Kambah – if you didn’t guess)

so… 5 families, 3 kids per family, almost half a classroom.

what happens when all the families in kambah, the largest suburb in canberra etc, etc which had a baby boom in 2005 & 2007, need to take their kids to school?? where the hell will we be going?

Very narrow minded ACT Govt, not getting my vote. I am seriously looking for a move away from the ACT, the continual stuff-ups and letdowns from the “ACT Council” are doing my head in.

Oh, and where the hell is my dragway??

emd, take a chill pill and stop mouthing off about what I’m mouthing off about.

I am not supporting the closure of schools, nor did I say that there should be no provision for the services you just mentioned. Did you not read my post? As I said earlier, a town park (for kids and the community to use) would be part of the plan, and any ripped up playground could be replaced within it. The current buildings could be refurbished and cater for a lot of the other needs in your post. That doesn’t mean that the rest of the land should be left to deteriorate. You may find the dried up tumbleweed parks in your suburb attractive, but for me they are just under utilised land. Most suburbs in Canberra lack any kind of unique character because there is no real focal point or centre, other than the – usually struggling – local shops, and this is an opportunity to create something new – but that may be another topic altogether. Anyway, you have just confirmed what I believe about ‘vocal’ anti development types. I personally don’t think you can see past your own nose. “Lets stop any kind of development because a few mums need some childcare! And don’t let anyone within two kilometres of it because some kind of ‘secret business’ is going on there.” Remember what those kiddies get taught: SHARE!

Oh, and regarding your gripe about 45 minute walks and bus services, that’s not really what I was discussing. Take your argument to someone else.

mouthface, you’re mouthing off about something you don’t know anything about.

ABS stats and Dept of Education stats show that there is a baby boom in Chifley/Pearce with lots of little kiddies looking for community services. What the community wants is to retain the land surrounding the school for community use, as we can see a growing need.
We already have the YMCA there, but we need more childcare centres, playgroup space, community meeting space, parks for kids to play in… oh yeah, and a public school that doesn’t require a 45 minute walk across major roads with no school bus service!
What the government want to do is rip out the play equipment already there, trash the trees and grassy areas connecting the community facility buildings to the pre-school and local shops, and cover it in more townhouses and blocks of flats.

They could do a range of things with these sites, especially the larger ones. A bit of high density to pay for it all, and then parks/halls/artspace/activity centres/buz. incubators. Providing they do it properly, and don’t just flog it off to some developer to have his way with. Because you know what’d happen then.

This government has a craze on turning whole things over to private enterprise and standing back. It doesn’t work. They have to retain some control to ensure the interests of the community are balanced against the money-making interests of developers.

Sometimes the community might need a kick up the arse! Just because you live in the neighbourhood, it doesn’t make you an expert on what the property’s best future use is, and judging by my own experience, I have found that most people that are vocal when it comes to these issues simply just want to retain the status quo. In their eyes, any change is bad. Retaining these sites in public ownership sounds a little lame don’t you think? In the end they will just end up deteriorating and becoming eyesores. It sounds like a smart idea to sell some of the land to developers. I think the biggest problem right now is that nobody – community, government bean counters, etc – has any idea how to move forward with these surplus properties. Most of the buildings can probably be retained, but they all sit on large parcels of land that in their current state are pretty much a waste of space. If the majority of that space becomes available for redevelopment – and I don’t mean just selling it off to build retirement villages or units – some interesting possibilities arise.

One idea may be to create an urban village within the suburb that incorporates a number of ‘mixed use’ elements. Some of the land may become a town park that is a focal point for the suburb. Most of these school properties are situated very close to the suburban shopping centre so maybe some of the land can extend the commercial use within that suburb and offer office, retail or hospitality space at a more affordable rate than what can now be found in the major commercial centres. Some of the land can become medium density or even high density housing. The money the Gov makes with the sale of some of that land can go towards refurbishing the current buildings and opening them up for community use, art space, business incubators etc…

Anyway, I’m no town planner but I could go on and on. I won’t. Obviously this is a good opportunity to re-think how surplus urban space is used and maybe we need some experts to put together some new idea that knocks our socks off. I won’t hold my breath.

Hmm. I missed this thread over the weekend.

I have to say – What tripe is this?

I read the report for North Curtin…

“The community preferred Option 1a which retained the site in public ownership and converted it to a community facility, although many preferred Option 3a, which sold part of the site.”

How many? More than 1? What percentage?

Then, 2 paragraphs later

“Based on the various investigations, Option 3a is the preferred option. This option
proposed development of community facilities and either residential care accommodation
or residential redevelopment on the balance of the site. Based on the demographic
trends in Woden in general and Curtin in particular, residential development is the
preferred use.”

Preferred based on what? And by whom?

Ahh, then we get to it…

Table 3: North Curtin, Generic Options Summary
Option NPV Initial Costs Annual Ongoing Costs Annual Revenues Sale Revenue
Option 1 -$5,066,000 $4,834,000 $210,275 $191,904 $0
Option 1a -$5,066,000 $4,834,000 $210,275 $191,904 $0
Option 2 -$1,692,000 $4,834,000 $204,387 $191,904 $3,300,000
Option 3 $5,468,000 $2,375,000 $82,885 $76,762 $7,920,000
Option 3a $26,000 $9,148,000 $3,493 $0 $9,218,000
Option 4 $11,321,000 $735,000 $0 $0 $12,056,000
Option 4a -$1,006,000 $735,000 $21,509 $0 $0

(sorry about the formatting…)

Option 3a makes the gubmint 9 meelion dollars, and only pisses off a majority of the people. How nice…

I’m not going to repeat the pros and cons list, but it’s funny how the community preferred option has 3 or 4 disadvantages spelled out for each category, but the gubmint preferred one has only one disadvantage per category…

or they could use citrus trees – then it would be legal to pee on a tree in public…

Yeah! and they could allocate each house a tree in a nearby median strip to water with buckets. Surely some people would get into it.

peterh said :

I’ve got it!!
an arboretum per suburb!

And the residents could take turns coming out and putting their grey water on the Wollemi Pines and then maybe they wouldn’t die.

There’s still some strong community feeling re a few closed schools. I think the opposition have said they’ll reopen a school or two if the community can prove such a move would be viable. Rushing the consultation might remove that option by October, and seems a little sneaky by half.

Holt oval. Once it’s built on you can’t ever get it back.

Samey same for the others.

I’d rather see tree plantings to make community parks.

I’ve got it!!
an arboretum per suburb!

When they were schools they were open to residents of nearby suburbs to walk their dogs on the oval of an evening, and for kids to play football etc on weekends.

“these precious community sites” …. says who?

Once they were schools. With an owner. ACT Government. Theirs to sell/develop. Face facts

I bet the decision as to what schools to close were made in consultation…. with a bunch of developers!

Closing schools hasn’t actually fixed the problem – the problem is bad policy, ie inequality within the public system itself caused by a no-zoning policy together with school based management.

It was too easy to close the schools – a temporary, short-sighted bandaid.

No decision should be made prior to the election. If they promise to hold off, at least this crowd might reclaim some cred. If they push the redevelopments through, they should watch out.

And I reckon no green space should be built on whatsoever – surely they have planned for aged care facilities and urban infill without having to resort to this?

Thanks for the link, I just posted at the Bang the Table consultation thingy…

Bloody shocking example of the govt’s “consultation” process. The summary document says something about keeping the buildings for community use and removing the community use overlay on the surrounding land. If you read the detailed report, they’re actually recommending that the space between the school and preschool and shops be sold off for medium density residential use. Not the aged care accommodation or public housing that a minority of residents were happy to have (the majority wanted the open space kept for community use). Their table comparing the advantages and disadvantages of options doesn’t even include the option that they recommended. Not genuine consultation at all!

disenfranchised11:22 am 09 Jun 08

We all knew it would eventually reach this stage after the bizarre May 2006 Budget announcement to close nearly 40 schools (which ended up involving just over 20). This has been a clear strategy from day one: you announce that you’ll shut down schools; you let the local hoons wreck the unoccupied buildings; you claim many can’t now be reopened anyway; all along you pretend that sale was never what you had in mind; then you wait 2-3 years and you are sitting on a huge windfall. Winner – developers and the government. Losers – the community. We lose our greenspace and our valuable local school. The sooner we get rid of these clowns in the Assembly and have a 5 person council the better.

It’s easier to say ‘development’ than ‘redevelopment’ of schools.

Cook PS is already used by the community (1/2 was before the school closed). So is the Govt ‘offering’ a place to those groups who will be effectively evicted?

Idiot Govt.

Interesting spin-wise that the consultants don’t use the word ‘school’ anywhere …

Maybe I’ll be able to afford a bedsitter at Tralee…

Hell yeah. Perhaps a new joint nuclear/gas turbine/dragway/international airport/slum facility could be built at Tralee?

Put it in my back yard!

I hear you el, me too. Bring on the slums!

Put the slums next to the nuclear facilities and I might be able to afford one 🙂

urban infill, put low cost townhouses on the school sites and be done with it; this is a chance to do something useful towards fixing canberras biggest problem (home affordability)

A gas turbine in every pot! Hooray!

A small and quiet gas-turbine power station on each and every site.

You know it makes sense.

Oh by the way – I’m crossy on the Bang the table site in case you couldnt guess! Bit of moral support over there would be good.

All good point guys, I’ve reflected some of these views in my comments to the consultation site. Feel free to make your own views known there (see links above) as I think the report to the Govt will come from the feedback there.

Sepi, that was my thought too, more leash-free zones.

And yeah, Special G, what’s the bet they’ve already awarded contracts after a limited tender round? That’s how this mob operates. Make decisions, get it all going, then go off to tick the “community consultation” box.

Enclosed dog runs would be another great idea.

Its another consultation after the plans have already been made and finalised.

It is important to retain some green space within suburbs.

The govt itself has acknowledged that Glebe Park is suffering from overuse as there is nowhere else for civic people to go.

It’s easy to take green space away and build houses on it. ONce that has happened you never get it back.

It seems so wasteful to knock down perfectly useful buildings. They should be able to recycle them as some kind of community facilities, community halls or business incubators or a mix of such things. At least some of the open land should be earmarked to remain as such, as parks or something. If they need to finance this with a small housing (high density) development, then that could be the way to go.

flogging off the lot to developers is NOT the way to go. We’ve all seen where that leads. Some more responsible, community-minded development is now needed. The gov’t must not divest itself of immediate responsibility for what happens on these sites.

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