WESTON CREEK COMMUNITY COUNCIL
- Your Local Voice -
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.wccc.com.au
Phone: (02) 6288 8975 Fax: (02) 6288 9179 ABN: 52 841 915 317
PO Box 3701 Weston Creek ACT 2611
Monthly Meeting 27th March 2002
PLANNING, EDUCATION and COMMUNITY SERVICES
Jeff Carl, Chairperson WCCC, welcomed residents and the committee to the meeting. Mr Carl introduced the guest speaker Mr Simon Corbell MLA Minister for Planning, Education and Community Services. Mr Carl advised the meeting that the WCCC was a voluntary community organisation, which has been in existence for 10 years, and the WCCC has regularly invited Ministers from the ACT’s Legislative Assembly to speak at WCCC meetings. Mr Corbell is the first Minister of the new ACT Government to address a WCCC meeting.
Mr Carl also indicated that Detective Sergeant Peter Budworth from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) would address the meeting regarding issues of concern in Weston Creek. As Sgt. Budworth had other engagements, Minister Corbell had agreed to allow Sgt. Budworth to proceed first.
Wayne Berry MLA, Di Patterson, John Smith, Tim Janes, Peter Tavender, Heather Hughes
Peter Budworth AFP
Sgt. Budworth thanked Minister Corbell for the change in protocol. The meeting was advised that the Sgt. Budworth is the Officer-in-Charge of the Woden Police District which includes Weston Creek. His Officers rely heavily on information gathered from the community to perform their tasks. Sgt Budworth encouraged the community to report incidents, no matter how minor so that a body of knowledge could be built. This is used to compare information to other events and may indicate patterns and/or modes of operation.
The meeting was told that the Police need to weigh up the importance of simultaneous events to consider the dispatch of police cars to incidents. Police attendance is on a needs basis and the effort is to be able to assist when and where needed. The police are currently targeting anti-social behaviour which includes vandalism and graffiti.
A number of statistics were provided to the meeting in respect of burglaries and thefts in the suburbs of Weston Creek. Burglaries across the district were down on a percentage basis however as regards thefts; there was not such a common pattern, with decreases and static numbers. Overall the Woden Police District has had a 60% decrease in burglaries when compared to the same period last year.
The Weston Skate Park would be the attention of a police blitz in the next few weeks, after the current road safety campaign over the Easter long weekend.
Questions were asked from the floor. The issues debated included the incidents of cars sliding across the road in Liardet St near the Royals corner. It appeared that cars leaving the carwash with wet, soapy wheels were skidding across the road and coming to rest in the gravel on the opposite side or skidding into vehicles parked outside the automotive repair premises. There were also queries on the lack of success in reducing the speed of cars on the southern stretch of Namatjira Drive. There was considerable debate on the use of fixed cameras on the Tuggeranong Parkway for speeding and tailgating offences.
Minister Simon Corbell
Mr Carl introduced the guest speaker, Mr Simon Corbell MLA, Minister for Planning, Education and Community Services. Mr Corbell indicated that he would provide an overview of major initiatives in his portfolio’s and then take questions from the audience.
In the area of planning there were new approaches which were designed to generate community debate and engage more people in the processes. The formation of Neighbourhood Planning Groups was a key strategy in this process and the recent meeting of invited community groups at the Albert Hall had contributed to developing the process of consultation. The event also helped identify issues and set directions for areas of attention. Mr Corbell also advised that the intention was to get planning right through investing in planning and delivering better services. The Government had committed $900,000 as an investment in planning so as to resource the development of a strategic plan for the Territory.
Mr Corbell then focussed on issues directly relevant to Weston Creek. The proposal to build a Montessori School on part of the old Holder High School Oval has been raised with the Government and views were being sought from the community. Another issue was the North Duffy/Holder land release, which is scheduled to occur in 2 years; community input to the process will be invited. The recently cleared pine plantation at the corner of Streeton Drive and Cotter Road was generating significant debate as to alternative uses. ACT Forests have indicated that the coop size is too small to be commercially viable and they will clear the land and then return it to the government. The land is zoned broadacre and this allows a number of low-density, low impact uses.
In respect of Education, Mr Corbell focussed directly on a Weston Creek issue, the Stirling Campus of ‘The Canberra College’. Mr Corbell advised the meeting the government had no intention of closing schools, except where the School Board and School Community requested such action. The Stirling campus is an important part of Weston Creek however; students were voting with their feet and enrolling in the Phillip Campus, even though a free shuttle bus service between the campuses was provided. The ‘Brain Gym’ is well used and will remain; it is in fact extending its service to provide classes during the daytime. It is the only evening college in Canberra to move into providing classes in the daytime.
Mr Corbell advised the meeting that an inquiry into the allocation of education resources across Canberra was being undertaken. The inquiry would be completed by November 2002 and the outcomes would contribute as input to the 2002-2003 Education Budget.
Mr Corbell then took questions from the audience. Mr Carl asked the first question regarding the possible relocation of the Adolescent Day Unit from Lyneham Primary School to Weston Creek Primary School. Mr Corbell indicated that there was the intention to use the ex-dental care unit in Weston Primary for the Unit. The Adolescent Day Unit performs a valuable service for the community with the main focus of the Unit assisting children who were at risk of not finishing school and dropping out. The Unit provided an environment to support and encourage continued participation in the education system. A meeting was being held at Weston Creek Primary School to discuss the proposed move with members of the school community.
A resident then asked, why was dropping out a priority? Does that mean we are not doing things in other areas to encourage maths and science? Mr Corbell advised that the resources allocated to education each year were $200M and there were indeed identified priorities covering a range of issues and there is a need to seek a balance in funding activities. This, which affected children’s education. An example is in Science where there is a need to upgrade the skills of science teachers who were taught up to 20 years ago. There is a program of continuous improvement for professional development, which provides skills, which could then be applied in the classroom.
A resident asked of possibility of installing speed/traffic cameras on the Parkway? The resident’s comment was that this would encourage slower speeds and also reduce the offence of tailgating which appears to be very prevalent on the Parkway. Mr Corbell indicated that Minister Bill Wood was responsible for speed cameras and he would raise the matter with him.
A resident spoke of the poor condition of Holder High School Oval. Mr Corbell understood that the land was treated as low maintenance because there was not a school associated with the playing fields. An example of a high maintenance oval was the oval nearby at Weston Primary, which also has the Weston Creek Skate Park.
A resident asked the Minister of the Montessori School proposal, why couldn’t an existing building be revamped? Mr Corbell advised that renovating an existing building was not in the proposal submitted to Government. However there was not much space in the Grant Cameron Centre old (Holder High School) nor the old Holder Primary School. The Minister indicated that, as Montessori were on the agenda for the meeting he would defer to them to go into the detail.
A question was asked of the Education budget. The Minister indicated that comments were currently being sought on the up-coming ACT Government budget and these could be sent to Mr Ted Quinlan MLA, Treasurer, before 9 April. Input to the Education Review would cover budget issues and the call for submissions was expected shortly. This review would be completed in November 2002.
The condition of the Arawang School Carpark was raised with the Minister. Mr Corbell advised the meeting that he had advice that the Dept of Education and the Dept of Urban Services were cooperating to ensure that a realistic outcome was achieved to satisfy the needs of the school with respect to carparking facilities. The questioner also asked of rumours regarding the selection of a tenderer without consulting the school community as to what was needed. The Minister indicated that he was not aware that a tender had been called but would be very surprised if the process moved ahead without the school community being involved in what was required. He indicated that he would follow up the issue.
The Weston Skateboard Park was raised in relation to public liability insurance for children who injury themselves while using the facility. The Minister indicated that he would check on the detail of the insurance situation in respect on the facility, however he did advise the meeting that the ACT Government was self-insured. The follow up question related to the graffiti on the Skate Park. The Minister was made aware that the graffiti appears to be a government organised event to 'decorate’ the facility. Now it was an ugly eyesore. The effect has been to encourage more graffiti, especially on the nearby Scout Hall, which for many years had been free of graffiti.
The decision to locate the Skate Park in Weston was raised. Mr Sutherland, Deputy Chair of the WCCC, indicated that the WCCC had significant involvement in bringing the various groups together to reach an agreed decision on the location of the skate park. This process took over 2 years. (The minutes of past WCCC meetings provide the details). As a by-product of the Skate Park, the Weston oval is now fully maintained whereas before it was a low-maintenance oval.
ACTION bus routes in Rivett was a concern of a Rivett resident. . The bus routes 25 and 28 were within a few minutes of each other and did not make it easy to make connections at Woden. The Minister indicated that he was not able to speak on the route timetable but encouraged the resident to follow-up with ACTION. He did advise the meeting that ACTION would implement a single zone bus fare in June and the zonal fare system, which discriminates against some residents in outlying areas, would be removed.
A resident asked the Minister on the use of the Stirling College should it become surplus to requirements. The Minister responded advising that there was no Government intention to close the school so it was difficult to see it becoming surplus to requirements.
The Minister was questioned regarding dual occupancy and the implementation of the 5% dual occupancy limit. The Minister advised that the 5% limit on dual and triple occupancy was currently a draft variation of the Territory Plan to manage over-development in sections/blocks. PALM were currently assessing the community comments as part of the consultation process.
A resident asked of the possibility of re-zoning the land at Streeton Dr/Cotter Rd. The Minister indicated that if there were to be any changes to this zoning there are a number of statutory periods involved and the total time for the changes could be 12 to 18 months. As Minister he would make decisions and take the responsibility for the decisions, however he did wish to ensure the views of residents, the community, developers and affected people were all considered in a process of re-zoning. Mr Sutherland, who writes the WCCC column in The Southside Chronicle, indicated that the strong response to his recent column on the subject of the cleared land was a preference for a native treed block. There was however strong interest from ‘empty’ nesters for smaller alternative housing options in Weston Creek, and there were very few sites available for such alternatives.
A resident asked the Minister if the fear factor of Stirling College would be self-fulfilling? The Minister indicated that the Government had deliberately not made any comment so as not to prejudice any views. The Government would not close the College. Mr Barry Woolacott, the College Principal was in the audience and advised that the ‘empty’ looking buildings at the Stirling campus were a result of renovations. The rooms had been cleared and student classes reallocated so as to enable workman access for the renovations.
A resident stated that an instructor had told them that the Stirling Brain Gym was not consulted on the impending closure of the College campus, and the Minister was asked why this had not occurred? The Minister replied that the Brain Gym was staying and that it had very high enrolments, to the extent that daytime classes were being run for adult education. Mr Woolacott reinforced this by indicating his concern that some instructors at the Brain Gym were not fully informed and needed to contact him directly to obtain the full picture. This could then be conveyed to adult students. The enrolments were higher than in previous years and the College has just purchased 20 new computers specifically for a daytime computer lab for Brain Gym students.
A resident asked of access to Government IT grants to Government schools and systematic catholic schools, and why were independent schools excluded? The Minister advised that independent schools could apply for funds for specific projects and these would be assessed based on merit.
Mr Carl thanked the Minister for taking questions and agreeing to follow-up on a number of the issues raised. Mr Carl invited the Minister to remain if he wished to hear the presentation from the Montessori School.
Mr Carl welcomed Christine Harrison, Director, Bruce Fisher, Architect and Chris Purdon, School Board member to the meeting.
Ms Harrison began with a short overview of the Montessori philosophy of teaching children. Montessori currently leased the old St Peter and Paul Catholic Primary School in Yarralumla, however the Catholic Education Office had indicated that the lease would not be renewed after the end of 2003 as the building was required. Montessori also leases premises in Hackett and Red Hill and are seeking to have a permanent school building. The school has 240 enrolments and the catchment is the whole of Canberra
Bruce Fisher provided the meeting with copies of preliminary sketches of the concept of the proposed building. The buildings would be in a small cluster and have minimal visual impact from the street. The land does contain several easements where construction is not permitted. The buildings will be low density, single storey and will be very similar to residential buildings – brick veneer. The school will not be fenced, except where there is a statutory requirement, eg around the pre-school.
The school would plant a forest and use collected rainwater to irrigate the forest and gardens. The buildings would be naturally ventilated. The surrounding areas would be upgraded and maintained by the school community. The open area would be available to the public and the school would aim to be an integrated part of the community.
Mr Carl invited questions from the audience. The first to speak was Mr Chris Brady, Principal St Judes Primary School which is adjacent to the site. Mr Brady said that is was unfortunate that he and Ms Harrison had not been able to meet and discuss the issues before this meeting. However, as Ms Harrison explained, many efforts were made but the timing was not possible.
Mr Brady was also very concerned regarding a flyer being distributed by a resident of Mulley Street Holder and indicated that he considered it libelous and wanted the circulation stopped. Mr Carl advised the meeting that he informed the Holder resident not to circulate the material at a WCCC meeting. The resident disregarded the instruction and continued to promulgate the material until asked again to refrain. Although he stopped he was very agitated that he could not circulate the material. Mr Carl indicated the WCCC did not allow others to circulate material at WCCC meetings.
Mr Brady was also concerned to read that St Judes was mentioned in the WCCC flyer which was distributed throughout Weston Creek publicising this meeting. His concerned related to wording that the Montessori School intended to share facilities with St Judes. This had not been discussed with him. The meeting was advised that an officer provided this information from the Dept of Urban Services at the last regular monthly meeting of the WCCC in February and the information was in the public arena.
Mr Brady agreed that he and Ms Harrison would meet at a mutually convenient time.
Mr Carl asked for further questions.
A resident asked why Montessori could not use part of an empty or under utilised schools in Weston Creek, perhaps, Rivett, Weston, ex-Holder Primary or parts of the ex-Holder High? Bruce Fisher advised the meeting that many options were considered and investigated. A major deterrent was the cost of renovating existing older schools to meet current Montessori’s needs for large classrooms. The cost of buying and renovating was beyond the means of Montessori. With the current proposal the construction would be in three stages which allowed a means of building a school through progressive additions. In many existing schools all the walls were loading bearing and removal of such wall require extensive re-work. In addition many classrooms are not directly accessible to ground level.
A resident questioned the maths of the argument that renovating is much more expensive than building new. It was indicated that the cost of building new was less than renovating, a major part of this was the huge initial outlay to buy a complete school. Under the current proposal costs can be staggered.
Another resident gave support for the school and the approach that a school building was being built along the principles and philosophy of the teaching in the school. This appeared to be very similar to the approach AME used in their school construction.
A resident of Mulley Street Holder questioned the offering of a site for an alternate use just because the Government had let it run-down. Although the tennis courts were not in good condition it was no reason for to find and alternate use for the site. Recently tennis courts in Narrabundah and Griffith had been restored. The Mulley Street tennis courts were used extensively and should be repaired. Bruce Fisher indicated that he saw no major reasons why the tennis courts could not stay, the preliminary sketches distributed were just that preliminary, nothing has been decided and there was always the ability to re-work concepts and ideas to gain beneficial outcomes. As regards the run-down disused ovals, the presence of a school may contribute to the improvement of the amenity of this facility.
Mr Carl thanked Montessori for their presentation and willingness to visit the community so early in the process of public consultation. He indicated that the WCCC would be inviting their attendance at future meetings as the consultation process progressed.
Serbian Club, Weston
Mr Carl invited Mr Don Horsley from Sutton and Horsley Pty Ltd and Mr Alan Morschel, Architect, to address the meeting regarding the purchase of the disused Serbian Club in Liardet Street Weston and their plans for the site.
Don Horsley indicated that his company had been operating in the ACT for 18 years building ACT Government Housing, Defence housing and aged persons units. They had successfully bid for the disused building and were seeking community ideas on what the building could be used for. A meeting had already been held with PALM and the building is in a commercial zone and could be used for a variety of uses such as a club, residential or entertainment, or a mix of these uses. There was the option of providing parking in the basement.
The block size is 2,600sq m and the development rights are 1:1. There is a two-storey height limit however this height limit can be considered as the datum for the height of the adjacent Indoor Cricket Arena (ICA).
It was suggested that residents could send their ideas for future uses of the site either directly to Mr Horsley or to the WCCC for forwarding on to Mr Horsley.
Any Other Business
Mr Carl asked the meeting if there was any other business, with none forthcoming the meeting closed at 10.10pm
24th April 2002.