Public meeting hears from experts on possible sites for Brighton’s new high school

A PUBLIC meeting was held in the Brighton Bowls and Community Club last month to discuss site options for the new Brighton High School which was agreed to by the Tasmanian Government at the last State Election.  A total $3 million has been put aside in the current State Budget to begin the planning and consultation process.   A total $4.3 million was put aside for the modernisation and upgrade of the Education Department’s School Farm. The site options and preferred site for the new high school which will be owned and built by the Tasmanian Government will be presented to the Government and the Education Department. Below is the presentation made to last month’s public meeting which was attended by approximately 70 Brighton municipality residents.

 By JERRY DE GRYSE*

INSPIRING Place has enjoyed working with Brighton for nearly 30 years now, most recently around the redevelopment of the Brighton village centre following the construction of the Brighton by-pass.  The by-pass offered the possibility for the creation of a vibrant village centre with an active streetscape that is safe, convenient and beautiful. This is now being achieved.Our role in the Brighton High School project is to discuss our evaluation of various options for locating a new high school in Brighton.  Our evaluation is based on 30 years of practice in landscape architecture and urban design, our long association with the people of Brighton and a rigorous examination of the options against a broad suite of criteria. The criteria were developed from discussions with a range of people in the community so that we could provide a realistic analysis as part of our presentation, to prove the case for our initial response on the best possible site.

A couple of provisos need to be understood. It has not been our role to evaluate the processes that determined there should be a high school in Brighton nor in determining the size of the school, its catchment, and other details which are in the domain of the Education Department.

We understand there are people who have long sought such an opportunity to have a high school in Brighton, and that the promise by the State Government of the new school addresses this vision.  For those who have campaigned for the high school, we congratulate you on your success to date. It has not been our role to determine the process agreed to between Council and the Department of Education about how the best site for the high school is to be selected.

Council is taking on a lead role because it brings its local knowledge to the process and can obtain the best long-term result for the community. This will result in a good process of village building and gain the best synergies from the project.

The State Government has committed $4.3 million for the modernisation of the School Farm which will not be affected by the planning or design of a new school.  That money is not threatened by the process of creating a new high school no matter which site is eventually chosen.

So, with that as a background, we looked at a number of sites within the town boundary.  These sites were all selected because they were large enough to accommodate modern high school buildings, open spaces, parking, pick up and drop off points.  In determining the potential footprint for the school, we looked at a range of other high schools around the state with which we are familiar such as Montrose Bay, Taroona and St Aloysius which suggested to us that a minimum-sized property of six hectares was required.

On this basis a number of sites that had been mentioned were ruled out (Brighton Army Camp, internal block behind the highway to the west and behind the proposed IGA on the east and an unbuilt block of land south of William Street).

Four sites did however, meet the size requirements: a portion of the school farm (and I stress that the farm is 10 hectares in size and that the investigations assumed that at least four hectares of the would remain as school farm), a portion of the Pontville Recreation Ground, the park in Seymour Street and the private property on the corner of the highway and Elderslie Road.

These four sites became the focus of our detailed assessment of their values as a potential location for the high school.

In doing so we considered three key parameters: environmental and social values, teaching and learning values, and community building values.  We rated each site on a scale of zero to five with five being the highest rating and zero the lowest.

While each site had strengths, our evaluation suggests there is a very strong case for locating the high school on a portion of the school farm has a higher value than any of the other sites.

  1. With that in mind, we developed a diagram how this might be achieved that illustrates how this might be achieved. The plan highlights the following:
  2. The location of the school as a feature of the main street and its proximity to the town’s shops and a large portion of the residences of the town – the community/village building values mentioned previously – that is what could the school do for the main street, what kind of presence will the kids have in the street, the possibilities for expanding the walkability and cycling to and from school.
  3. The integration that is possible between the school, the school farm and the proposed provedore facilities planned for the site; and the strong connectivity to the primary school with the physical, economic and social benefits of the two being in close proximity (i.e. create an expectation for whole-of-life learning).
  4. There is also a strong connection to the school farm in its current configuration and I appreciate the value of putting children in contact with animals.

With that in mind the plan shows the retention of some of the existing paddocks to enable continued periodic agistment of animals which the farm evolves to address contemporary concerns for food scarcity, home production, paddock to plate produce and low carbon miles.

The 24-Carrot garden at the Primary School has already started down this road and the proximity of the high school to the School Farm would reinforce this through the whole of the curriculum from pre-school to graduation from high school. It will enable it to be explored on a much larger scale including the integration between food crops, orcharding and small animal husbandry.  All of this can only be to the absolute benefit of all school students in the Brighton municipality.

We congratulate Brighton Council and all those who have been involved in this process and look forward to its further development by the Tasmanian Government.

*Jerry De Gryse is Director / Landscape Architect of Inspiring Place. Inspiring Place was founded in 1996 with skills in landscape architecture, tourism, recreation and environmental management.  The consultancy was commissioned by Brighton Council to evaluated possible sites to present to the Education Department for the building of the new Brighton High School.

 

 

 

 

 

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