2 April 2024

Survey open to identify potential positive and negative social impacts of Bungendore High School project

| Claire Fenwicke
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Bungendore High School sign

Bungendore High School students are currently learning in demountables at the public school. Photo: Bungendore High School Facebook.

The Bungendore community is being asked what it thinks will be the social impacts of the town’s permanent high school as part of the NSW Government’s new push to get the project off the ground.

School Infrastructure is having to go through an amended State Significant Development (SSD) application for Bungendore High School after a court found the original development consent was invalid.

The Social Impact Assessment (SIA) is a specialist study to identify and analyse the “potential positive and negative impacts” associated with a proposal.

“Social impacts are the consequences that people experience when a new project brings change,” a statement from School Infrastructure NSW noted.

“Social impacts are those that affect people’s way of life, community, accessibility, decision-making, culture, livelihoods, surroundings and health and wellbeing.”

The online survey is being completed by an independent specialist consultant and also aims to understand the views of users of existing community facilities such as the pool, Mick Sherd Oval and the Community Centre, as well as the current school community.

The SIA will accompany the amended SSD.

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The amended SSD application will seek consent to build the new high school in the Majara and Gibraltar streets precinct, consisting of three school buildings, outdoor learning and playing areas, and primary pedestrian and vehicle access from Gibraltar Street.

It will remove the facilities and works for the new high school which were originally proposed to be undertaken on Crown Land. These include a new footpath for Mick Sherd Oval, a new PA system for the war memorial, relocation of existing field lights into Mick Sherd Oval, modifying the existing in-ground irrigation at the Mick Sherd Oval boundary, demolition of the existing swimming pool and building the new school hall, and a new agricultural plot building and driveway crossing to McCusker Drive.

These elements will instead be included in a separate planning application.

It’s expected the amended SSD application will be lodged by May and be exhibited by the Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure for 14 days to receive written submissions.

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Monaro MP Steve Whan recently updated NSW Parliament on the project’s progress, stating the planning department was likely to take at least four months to consider the amended SSD once it had been lodged.

Mr Whan blamed the previous government for the pain caused in the community, and for the further delays to getting shovels in the ground.

“The previous government promised and announced a site to the community, without notice, which caused controversy. There was legal action, and a decision was handed down suggesting that the planning needed to be redone,” he said.

“So the people of Bungendore will be waiting longer for the school. That is extremely disappointing and frustrating, but we have no choice but to go through that process.

“I apologise to the people of Bungendore that they have sometimes held overly optimistic ideas of when the school might be delivered, given the problems it had.”

Mr Whan said he was receiving updates “every couple of weeks” to be assured the project was back on track.

He acknowledged the site’s location was also a sore point for some, but that the Majara/Gibraltar site was the place to build it.

“We have no choice now but to go ahead and get a school in place, hopefully before we run out of room in the demountable school that has been built on the primary school lawn.”

The survey will close at 5 pm, 12 April. Any questions or concerns can be sent to the NSW Department of Education on [email protected] or by calling 1300 482 651.

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Greg Cameron1:38 pm 03 Apr 24

The assumption is that the promised legal challenge to the validity of the fresh Development Applications can be defeated. The opponent of the Majara/Gibraltar school precinct has publicly declared their intention to cause further delay through renewed legal action.

Even if their legal action fails, any further delay will come at a cost not just to high school students and their teachers, but also the 500 students who attend Bungendore Public School.

The purpose of renewed legal action is to prevent the new school from being built for opening in term one of 2026. DOE cannot prevent legal action from being taken. DOE’s response may, or may not, succeed. Parliament can deal with the risk of further delay due to legal action.

Both the government and the opposition want the new school to open in term one of 2026. With this bi-partisan support, the Parliament can make a law that removes the possibility of renewed legal action preventing the school from opening in term one of 2026.

Parliament’s first and foremost obligation is to the children. If the law works to the disadvantage of the children, change the law.

For heavens sake. Bungendore needs a high school. Just get on with it!

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