The most significant open space area in Weston Creek, the CIT gardens, will be maintained despite the probable transformation of the campus to a school.
Consultation over the future of the site has been ongoing since since the decision was made to relocate students and staff at the Weston campus to the Bruce campus, with the site eitherÂ to be provided as a new location for the Islamic School of Canberra or for a medium density residential development.
There were fears that the gardens might be lost following the decision to develop the site, however as a recent Weston Creek Community Council (WCCC) meeting, the director of strategic project facilitation in the Chief Minister’s department, Ross McKay, gaveÂ commitment that the garden area would remain no matter what is developed at the campus.
WCCC chairman Tim Dalton welcome this news and said the council looked forward to working with other community groups in developing a plan to maintain the site now that the horticultural students from the CIT would no longer be tending it.
“Unlike other areas, Weston Creek has no public park and this would be an ideal area for the district,” Mr Dalton said.
“This is a great result and an opportunity for the residents to take ownership of a piece of their community”.
While encouraged by the news that the gardens would be retained, residents at the WCCC meeting were less than enthusiastic about the consultation process regarding the possibility of the Islamic School being located at the site.
Members of the council unanimously voted that they were unsatisfied with the community consultation regarding the future of the site.
Resident David Edwards said the community information night was farcical and questioned the legitimacy of the process given that he, and other residents who attended the night, could not access any information regarding the plans due to the overwhelming number of people at the meeting, particular from the Muslim community.
Gregory O’Regan said he found the night a very uncomfortable experience and was questionedÂ by several people as to what he was doing there.
Purdon Associates was commissioned by the government to carry out t5he community consultation, an director Christine Purdon said she was sorry that a number of people had this experience, but the Muslim community had every right to attend the information night.
She said that the majority of respondents to a survey released earlier this year indicated that the majority of residents in Weston were not opposed to the establishment of the school.
A report on the consultation would be forwarded to the ACT Cabinet members in the near future, with a decision on which way to proceed with the site, either the Islamic school or residential development, expected before the end of the year.
By Peter Reynolds
17 November 2009