Communities Face Sell-Off of Green Space Around Closed Schools

Save Our Schools today released figures which show that over 70% of ‘green space’ of 8 closed school sites is being considered for sale by the ACT Government.

SOS spokesman, Trevor Cobbold, said that the implications of the proposed sell-off should be canvassed at public meetings beginning this week on the future closed school sites.

“Our analysis of the site reports produced by Purdon Associates shows that well over half the green space of the closed schools was recommended for sale. In two cases 100% of school grounds are targeted to be sold off.

“The proportion of school green space to be sold off in each case is:

  • Cook 48 per cent
  • Holt 74 per cent
  • Melrose 66 per cent
  • Mt. Neighbour 100 per cent
  • Nth. Curtin 75 per cent
  • Rivett 100 per cent
  • Village Creek 25 per cent
  • Weston 75 per cent

Mr. Cobbold called on the consultant conducting the public meetings this week to ensure that communities have all the relevant information about the proposed sell-off of green space.

“The extent of the proposed sell-off will come as a shock to many residents. To date, the ACT Government and the consultant have failed to provide clear information about how much land is proposed for sale in each community affected.

“A fundamental task of the meetings starting this week should be to inform communities of the extent of the proposed sell-off and to give them the opportunity to discuss and assess the implications for their suburb.”

Mr. Cobbold accused the ACT Government of refusing to accept the communities’ verdict on school sites.

“The new consultation is seeking community views on options to sell-off green space that were decisively rejected during the consultations conducted by Purdon’s last year. The clear preference of communities in all cases was to retain school sites for community use and for potential future use as schools. Even the Purdon’s site reports acknowledge that there was very limited support for re-development of the sites.

“The Government is using the new consultations in an attempt to wear down community resolve and force acceptance of privatisation of urban green space.

“The Government has set its sights on grabbing the $50 million value put on these sites by the Purdon’s report. This was always the key objective behind the school closure plan. The Chief Minister made this clear back in mid-2006.

“Once again, local communities will have to tell the Government that they want the green space to remain and they want school buildings used for community purposes.

“Selling off the sites will be a significant loss to these communities. Young children and their parents will lose special areas for recreation such as school playgrounds. These areas also provide alternatives for family recreation when ovals are in use by sporting groups.

“The re-development of school grounds will be a major change to the physical environment of these suburbs. The original Plan for these suburbs made provision for extensive green space, including school grounds. This principle should not be jettisoned just to provide a short term boost to Government revenue.”

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