After several years of disagreements with the Brindabella Christian College, members of the local Lyneham Community Association are perplexed by the ACT government’s reaction to what they claim are multiple breaches of planning regulations and a lack of enforcement.
The trouble began in 2014 with the school’s plans to build a multi-purpose sports facility and adjoining carpark that would sit on part of the Lyneham Oval. In exchange for building on community green space, the school had offered to significantly upgrade the remaining oval area.
But an ACT government survey of local residents spearheaded by Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury found that over 60 per cent of residents were opposed to the plan, citing strong concerns over private use of public land and the loss of community green space.
Brindabella Christian College has embarked on a significant building program in recent years as the school grows.
But Lyneham Community Association president Trevor Vickers has told Region Media that issues continue with both the school and the ACT government over multiple trees removed by the school during its recent expansion, carpark usage and alleged breaches of the school’s development application.
“Most worrying is that the government doesn’t seem to be interested in enforcing laws that we have,” Mr Vickers said. “The LCA thought that removing 13 trees without permission on the site should result in a fine of at least $80,000, but the resolution of that is that the minister has added a requirement to the development application to say they must plant four more trees.
“The other issue was a sublease on what they use as a car park. We discovered that the lease and purpose clause says it’s for an outdoor sports facility and an ancillary carpark. There’s just a carpark on the site, no outdoor facility and we argued to the government that if you don’t have the facility you shouldn’t have the carpark.”
Although the Lyneham Community Association is not a party to the sub-lease and the ACT government is therefore not legally obliged to reveal details of the sublease arrangement, Mr Vickers says they feel that the government has a responsibility to do so.
“The Government goes on and on about transparency and how important it is to them. Here’s a chance to prove its value,” Mr Vickers said.
The Lyneham Community Association also believes that the College’s new building is set closer to the western boundary than the DA allowed. Mr Vickers said the LCA has had very limited contact with the school itself, although Brindabella Christian College had agreed to stop restricting access to a carpark that is a public space.
“Brindabella seems to feel it has some entitlement to Lyneham’s public space,” Mr Vickers says. “Does any other developer cut down trees without paying the price? If any of us did that without permission, surely we would be fined? We expect that if we see a business like Brindabella doing the wrong thing, we should be able to get the government to do the right thing and apply the law to them.”
Brindabella Christina College declined the opportunity to comment on this article.