The battle of the action groups in Bungendore is heating up over the proposed new high school, with the Bungendore High School Action Group and the Bungendore Park Action Group at loggerheads over the site for the school.
This comes as the project last week took another significant step forward, with Hindmarsh Construction named as the contractor for the initial design of the school.
Member for Monaro John Barilaro joined with members of the Bungendore High School Action Group to announce the company had been awarded the contract for the early design of the school.
Mr Barilaro said the naming of a preferred contractor allowed them to be part of the planning process for the school after the NSW Government lodged a Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements application with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment in February.
“This is an exciting milestone in the delivery of a new high school for Bungendore, and I’m looking forward to sharing the designs with the community in the near future,” Mr Barilaro said.
“A new high school for this community means updated facilities and the most modern learning spaces for our students that will benefit this community for years to come.”
However, the project that will see more than 400 children in classrooms for term one in 2023 is still the subject of growing angst in the community, with the Bungendore Park Action Group saying there is huge and passionate opposition in the Bungendore community to the proposed site known as the Majara and Gibraltar Street precinct, adjacent to Mick Sherd Oval.
Bungendore Park Action Group spokesperson Judith Turley said a petition with about 400 signatures had been collected opposing the proposed site.
“In contrast, the Department of Education has claimed support for its proposal – in briefings to the Council, the Minister for Education and to the public – on the basis of 54 responses to a very limited survey it conducted,” Ms Turley said.
The group is also concerned about the loss of space at Bungendore Park, a central place for sport, celebrations, recreation and tourism.
“The Bungendore community is devastated to be losing so much of their Park. There is so much history and so many memories for generations of local people here. It upsets us that Council is betraying our trust like this,” said Ms Turley, a former Palerang councillor before the shire merged with Queanbeyan.
The Bungendore Park Action Group has also maintained the NSW Department of Education has been deliberate in choosing the proposed site for the high school at the request of the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council.
“This is a decision which has been forced on Bungendore by the Council in Queanbeyan. They suggested this site to the Department of Education and they are relying on the proceeds of selling the Park to cover their revenue shortfall for the coming year,” Ms Turley.
QPRC has already agreed in principle to sell its Bungendore properties, such as the council chambers in Bungendore, the ageing Bungendore Swimming Pool, and Bungendore Community Centre to the NSW Department of Education to make way for the high school.
Some of these facilities are being included in the Bungendore Sports Hub.
A NSW Department of Education spokesperson said three submissions were received for proposed locations through the EOI process.
“These were investigated thoroughly and unfortunately, also found to not be suitable for this project,” the spokesperson said. “Following the due diligence process, the Majara/Gibraltar Streets precinct was identified as the most suitable location.”
Community and stakeholder consultation on the proposal will occur after the development application is lodged with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. It is anticipated this will be mid-2021.
It is expected the first sod will be turned before the end of this year.
Original Article published by Michael Weaver on The RiotACT.