Keep school site in public hands: Co-op


By Oliver Lees

The Kyneton and District Town Square Co-op has launched a petition to have more community control over the proposed development of the old Kyneton Primary School site.

Responsibility for the $12 million revitalisation project, which will see the space on Baynton Street transformed into an exhibition space, has been handed to an unnamed organisation.

The decision was made in November last year following an assessment by a panel of experts from several government departments and an independent auditor.

The Co-op’s petition states the current project “rejects community interests and ignores the contribution the community can make to the success of the project”.

Co-op chair Rob Bakes said the petition wasn’t specifically designed to oppose the current program, but rather to draw the community’s attention to “how this project is being managed and by whom”.

“We want to know what role the community could have in this development,” Mr Bakes said.

“We’re trying to prove the co-op is capable of engaging and taking on this project.”

Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas has responded to the petition and said she is looking forward to “working closely with the community”.

“The Old Kyneton Primary School is an important and much-loved local site and we remain committed to keeping it in public hands and transforming it into a community and creative hub,” Ms Thomas said.

The Kyneton and District Town Square Co-op was one of six parties to lodge a formal expression of interest to manage the future vision of the historic plot.

Their proposal included a community garden, market space, amphitheatre and sculpture garden.

The Co-op has commenced a Saturday afternoon store selling coffee and burgers to raise funds for the organisation and to demonstrate its ability to generate capital, which Mr Bakes said was likely a factor that worked against their application.

He said he remained confident “the community has warmed to the ideas in our expression of interest”.