Battle ground


Battle ground

Opportunity: the Leongatha Primary School will move in 2011, paving the way for development at the present site on Horn Street.

By Chris Brown
THE battle has begun for one of the most valuable pieces of land in Leongatha.
The primary school is due to move at the start of next year, likely leaving 2.91 hectares available in the middle of town.
Some local identities are suggesting the community rally to have the land converted into a recreation facility.
Others believe it is suitable for housing. 
Frank Dekker is the secretary of the Leongatha Recreation Reserve, tennis club president and golf club secretary.
“I definitely think the land should be put towards recreational facilities for the town, whether that is another football oval or a soccer field,” he said.
“Some of the established trees could be incorporated into a park type of setting and if the levels of the ground were suitable it could be the new home for the Leongatha Little Athletics club.”
Mr Dekker said the Leongatha Recreation Reserve was becoming crowded.
“There is a definite need for another cricket ground within the area,” he said.
“This seems like the ideal place to have these sorts of recreational facilities.”
Leongatha Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Darryl McGannon said community consultation, particularly with residents living near the site would be important.
“I would expect the land should be used for either a residential or recreational facility,” he said.
“If there are sporting clubs out there trying to relocate, it might give them options.”
Leongatha Progress Association president Mick Flynn said the community should be given the opportunity to have a say on the final decision for the site.
Leongatha Primary School principal Rob Higgins said it is anticipated students will start at the new site in 2011.
Slabs have been poured for the Grade 3/4 classrooms, gym and the shared library.
Mr Higgins said there had been a brief delay as builders waited for the delivery of steel works.
Mr Higgins is frequently asked about what the primary school site will become.
“I would like encourage discussions with the community and South Gippsland Shire about what recreation and business space we have in town and what this could be used for,” he said.
The gym, office and tennis courts all offer potential for community group use.
Alex Scott & Staff Leongatha’s Andrew Newton said the location would be ideal for residential development.
“It would be a once in a lifetime opportunity for a residential development,” he said.
“It’s accessible, not too steep, and central to all the other schools and the shops.”
Mr Newton said it would suit a mixture of townhouses and medium size house blocks.
Department of Education and Early Learning Director of Major Projects in the Gippsland region, Don Paproth, said the school site will be offered to other government departments and if they don’t want it the shire can acquire it.
“If there is no interest from them, the next stage is, it is put up for public sale, which might be by tender, but usually by auction,” he said.
“We are a long way off making those sorts of decisions.”
The Department of Education and Early Learning has had early discussions with council.
Mr Paproth said some school sites had been retained for public use, others have become housing developments.
Rosedale Primary School’s old site was turned into a community space maintained by volunteers.
A Wellington Shire spokesperson said the site is used for meetings, markets and a community drop in centre.
“The open space area surrounding the old school building is maintained by council and now contains a skate park, playground, barbecues, public toilets and general open lawn areas,” she said.
The former site of the Koonwarra Primary School land now hosts the Koonwarra Sustainable Communities Centre and is available for community groups to use.
The old Moe High School became a housing development near the centre of town.
It is estimated the Leongatha Primary School site could accommodate 20-25 medium sized house blocks or 50-60 townhouses.
South Gippsland Shire Council Mayor Jim Fawcett said the land shouldn’t be used for something that was detrimental to the amenity of residents.
“We have to comply with planning laws like anyone else and you can imagine the residents’ views could be quite at odds with it being used for some activities,” he said.
Mr Fawcett said how the land was used would be a matter for the education department, community groups and council.

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Posted by SiteAdmin on Feb 9 2010. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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