I have been interested to see the recent articles in the Bendigo Advertiser regarding the plan to use some land in Strathfieldsaye to build a new supermarket. The article earlier this week which focused on the IGA supermarket was quite simply one-sided. I am sure that this business will suffer, but it is likely that so will many others.
Edwards Greengrocery just celebrated their first birthday, and there has been a rejuvenation of this part of Strathfieldsaye during the past few years with Strathfieldsaye Bakery and the Butchers being opened (again in the case of the Butchery). Strathfieldsaye's commercial area is more than the IGA and it's attached shopping complex. What of the Pharmacy? The Hardware store? Where was the balance?
Indeed, what of the traffic issues inherent in building a shopping centre on the corner of Club Court. This intersection of Club Court, Tannery Lane, and what is locally known as Strathfieldsaye Road (though it has MANY names) is quite dangerous. Leaving Club Court, particularly turning right towards town, is fraught with danger. This turn is made daily by local residents; the parents from the local primary school, the preschool, the maternal and child health nurse; as well as those leaving the soccer club or Strathfieldsaye Recreation Reserve. I fear for my life when I need to leave Club Court on my bike, and feel just as fearful when I am taking the kids home from soccer practice.
Also, this new supermarket is planned to be built directly next to the Strathfieldsaye Primary School. The fence which separates the two properties has class rooms only metres from it. The students in Grades 3 and 4 currently use these rooms, and the current plans suggest that their airy, bush view outside their south facing windows will be replaced with a loading dock. Imagine the noise! Imagine yourself a teacher, trying to keep students focused and on task while trucks load on and off all day, right outside your class room.
My children attend this school, so I have an interest in maintaining the amenity of their space. I am also very aware that the school has no more room to expand, for all that the expansion in population is the very reason that Woolworths (or the developer at least) intend to build next to the school. Have we lost sight of the importance of play, of space to explore? What of space to learn? The school already has around 500 students, and only a few rooms are portables, placed along this fence line. There doesn't appear to be anywhere else they could be placed in the yard than along this property boundary.
I am not sure if an alternative can be found. I am not sure whether the Education Department would or could buy this land for future expansion, but I doubt they could offer the price a developer can offer.
When we develop in the Bendigo region, we need to be clever about it. We need to understand the issues, and make sure that while developing land, we don't cut off our nose to spite our face. If the land is lost to a developer now, if the school is tied to the current land, then families may not buy in Strathfieldsaye, knowing they may have to travel to access education for their children.