2 November 2022

Parking the prickly issue at latest debate over Bungendore High School

| Claire Fenwicke
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Artist impression of school forecourt

An artist’s impression of the entry forecourt to the new Bungendore High School from Majara Street. Photo: NSW Department of Education.

Queanbeyan-Palerang councillors have been accused of “changing their position” following another spirited debate about Bungendore’s new high school.

It’s in relation to additional parking along Turallo Terrace unveiled in the latest design for the project.

Councillor Edwina Webster proposed an amendment to a motion relating to the school at a recent council meeting, to tell the State Government the council did not support any formalised parking on Turallo Terrace North or South, among other issues.

In this instance, it meant the council objected to the development “on the basis that the required additional 58 parking spaces have not been provided”.

It was Cr Webster’s opinion that until a “proper” traffic and road safety report was provided, “Council would be remiss to enter into any formalised parking arrangements” on Turallo Terrace.

“I don’t believe a proper investigation has been carried out with respect to the low-level bridge crossing [nearby] that floods on a regular basis,” she said.

“I’m speaking as a 20-year resident of Bungendore; that crossing goes under on a regular basis.”

There was concern the proximity of Turallo Terrace to this crossing would create traffic issues and unsafe conditions should it flood.

Cr Webster particularly questioned accessibility for parents and residents living at the Elmsea development.

“How do they safely turn around? Exit the 90-degree parking or access the drop-off zones when cars are at a standstill up the middle of the road?” she asked.

“Turallo Terrace will effectively be a dead end due to the closure of Majara Street [during flooding]; how will residents manoeuvre out of their driveways?”

Cr Katrina Willis supported this, blaming the Government for choosing a site that was “too small for this facility”.

“Consequentially it is forcing car parking into surrounding residential streets,” she said.

“There will be insufficient parking for all the additional and competing needs, there will be increased traffic congestion.”

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However, Cr Jacqueline Ternouth was concerned opposition to the Turallo Terrace spaces would leave the council open to issues down the track.

“Are we leaving ourselves open, potentially, to having a more significant issue along those areas by not addressing it, by refusing consent?” she asked.

“Would we be better, perhaps, to not remove our support for it but perhaps make it pending the traffic study?”

Earlier in the meeting, Cr Mareeta Grundy had expressed her support for formalised parking along Turallo Terrace as part of the development, describing the current parking situation as a “dog’s breakfast”.

“There were cars parked across two residences, on the lawns, under trees, some were parallel parked, some were diagonally parked, and some were parked right-angled to Turallo Terrace,” she said.

“Currently there’s no guttering, there’s no formalisation of parking, but the right for anyone in the community exists currently to park there.

“So this gives us the opportunity to have that area improved in a more formalised manner, not at our cost.”

Council development and environment director Michael Thompson advised councillors if parking wasn’t captured as part of the high school’s planning process, then future enlargement of parking at other facilities – such as the preschool – would have to be done at their expense.

He also said the council supported parking south of Turallo Terrace.

“[The State Government] hasn’t catered for car parking for their students, and we believe that they’re going to park somewhere, it’s not as though they’re going to disappear if we don’t have any car parks,” Mr Thompson said.

“We believe that in the long term it’s better to have some structured parking there where people can park, rather than park on the unformed road reserves where they may in fact have more impact … noting we’re concerned about the impact it may have on the northern side on the neighbours.”

He squarely blamed the State Government for the position the council was now in.

“This is their problem … they made this mess, but at the same time we need to be a responsible player, as we are, and highlighting issues with what they’re bringing forward.”

Issues were also raised around Crown Land impacts, stormwater, roundabouts, crossings and pedestrian movement, and water and sewage.

Ultimately the majority of councillors voted to object to the additional parking on Turallo Terrace included in the school’s updated plan.

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In a later media release, Monaro MP Nichole Overall said it was “surprising and disappointing” this decision was made, saying they had “changed [their] position”.

“We had already responded to community submissions by providing more parking along Turallo Terrace. When raised with me that still more is needed, I took it forward with the Minister for Transport and the Department of Education,” she said.

“It’s both surprising and disappointing given residents’ calls for more parking, not less.

“This decision also means a significant financial impact on the Bungendore Preschool.”

A project update from School Infrastructure NSW said the exhibition period for the new plan had now closed, with more than 200 submissions received on the updated design.

It acknowledged that site selection was still the main topic raised, and many other community issues stemmed from this.

It issued a statement on “clarifying the site selection process”, which began in 2019 with an investigation of local and state government lands.

“In late 2019, School Infrastructure NSW also engaged Property NSW to undertake a public expression of interest process of privately held lands to identify suitable land opportunities for the new high school,” it said.

“Many were deemed not suitable due to a combination of reasons including flooding, connectivity to the town, ecological constraints, bushfire constraints, zoning and lack of utilities.”

It said the Majara Street site was chosen for a number of reasons, including a central location, access to existing services and facilities, and the site not being affected by flooding or ecological constraints.

“In particular, the Precinct site’s direct proximity to Bungendore Public School presented the opportunity to provide enhanced pedagogical opportunities and co-sharing facilities across the two schools,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, work continued on the temporary high school to be ready to accept years 7 and 8 students for the first day of Term 1 in 2023.

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