28 April 2023

'Disappointing' delay to Whitlam school opening

| Ian Bushnell
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a plan of the new suburb

A plan of the new suburb showing where the school will be built. Image: Suburban Land Agency.

The construction of an early childhood education centre and primary school in the new suburb of Whitlam in the Molonglo Valley has been put back a year.

Molonglo’s third public school was set to open in 2025 but Whitlam families will now have to wait until 2026.

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The P-6 primary school will cater for up to 800 primary school students, while the early childhood education centre will have 130 places.

The Suburban Land Agency (SLA) made the announcement on its website, blaming industry delays caused by the pandemic.

“We understand that this might be disappointing news for some families,” the SLA said.

“The delay is due to unavoidable impacts on the construction industry following the COVID-19 global pandemic.”

The SLA said that being located in the priority enrolment area for the nearby Evelyn Scott School in Denman Prospect, families had access to that school while Whitlam was being built.

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Molonglo Valley Community Forum spokesperson Monique Brouwer said the news was disappointing but understandable given the delays in construction across the ACT.

But she said the project that must not be delayed is the Molonglo River Bridge because it was the main connection point for Whitlam families to the rest of Molonglo and Evelyn Scott School.

She said that if Coppins Crossing flooded, those families in Whitlam with children at Evelyn Scott would be cut off from the rest of Molonglo.

That meant a long roundabout trip down William Hovell Drive, the Tuggeranong Parkway and Cotter Road.

“If they can’t get across Coppins Crossing they have to go right round the long way to get to school, which is a risk to safety and accessibility for those kids,” Ms Brouwer said.

That happened last year to several families.

“They were not able to get their kids to school because it made their day so much longer and time-consuming and really impacted students as well,” Ms Brouwer said.

She said it was important for the schools to be connected because Evelyn Scott would be the main public high school for the area.

Early works for the Molonglo River Bridge are due to start in the coming months, and the bridge is due to open to traffic in December 2025.

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Enrolments for the new public school in Whitlam are now set to open in 2025.

Last year’s budget allocated $76.75 million to build the school.

A local centre is also planned alongside it, including shops and a supermarket, a medical centre, a childcare centre and a tavern.

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The ACT government is incapable of delivering infrastructure and services in the Molonglo Valley. They consistently treat people living in this area with utter contempt by making promises that are either never delivered or delayed far into the future.
Messrs Steel, Patterson and Davidson seem to be content to stand by while this area continues to be deprived of essential services. It’s time for these useless MLAs to be replaced with hardworking independents who are committed to the area; who prioritise local residents and not just their own political careers like the incumbents.

Craig Caldwell11:25 am 28 Apr 23

Molonglo always seems to be missing out. I have lived in Canberra for over 50 years, and I am still waiting for the new Coppins Crossing Bridge to be built. Hopefully the Govt will stick to their promise and build the school as outlined.

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