Our college is fortunate to be located within Rosalind Park, one of Bendigo’s most attractive locations. Being on a tight site with no sporting fields of our own and less open space than we’d like our students have naturally gravitated towards the park during their lunch breaks. And while they are entitled to do so as members of the public we are also acutely aware of the need to maintain the park in good shape and the requirements of other users.
From time to time suggestions have been made that the college may move from this site and this question has been raised again during the recent master planning process for Rosalind Park conducted by the City of Greater Bendigo. Yesterday the city released two concept plans for the future of the park and is seeking community feedback. One of the plans includes the conversion of the two school sites – ours and Camp Hill Primary School – into parkland.
Before people rush to make comment on the concept plans it’s important they understand that they do not represent firm proposals for future development of the park. The master planning process has focused on the need fora strategic approach to future development of the park given what some may view as haphazard planning decisions in recent times. There’s little doubt that a plan needed to be put in place to guide future development.
The master planning group identified a number of things that might be achievable in the short term to create a more ‘park like’ feel for some areas of the Rosalind Park precinct, particularly those along the Barnard Street frontage. Beyond that, the group also contemplated what might be possible in the coming decades and the result of this is the concept plans released yesterday.
I believe there is a clear understanding among members of the master planning group that structural change to the park, such as that contemplated in the concept plans, will only be achievable when and if current user groups choose to relocate. There will be no forced relocation. This would apply equally to the pool, tennis courts and velodrome, for example, as it would to the schools.
The land on which the schools sit was excised from the park in 1863. It does not fall under the council’s control or, strictly speaking, within the purview of the master planning process. It has made sense, however, for the schools to be at the table as discussions took place about the potential future of the park.
Let’s be absolutely clear about this. The council has no capacity to force relocation of the schools. I don’t believe it would be so foolish as to propose this and neither would the state government, with both sides of politics committed to local determination of school futures. Our college has no intention of moving . I cannot predict what may happen in 30-50 years time or what the provision model of education may be at that time, but I find it hard to believe that the college would relocate given its attachment to the site, the fact that its been here for over 100 years and the need for a central education location in Bendigo.
Our college will continue to grow and as it does so I see exciting possibilities for future development on another campus, perhaps with a specialist focus and a university alignment. At present we are focused on redevelopment of our current site and increasing the amount of casual recreation space available; the redevelopment of the old gaol site and future removal of relocatable buildings are critical to this objective.
I support the master planning process for Rosalind Park and I see exciting possibilities in the concept plans. But the relocation of the schools won’t be among them.