Consultants Urban Ethos (supported by Social Fabric Planning and others) have been commissioned to develop a masterplan for the future of the old Kyneton Primary School site.
The site occupies more than 1.3 hectares and is located within the centre of the Kyneton township. The land is in a prominent position, adjacent to the main central business areas and has three street frontages.
The purpose of the master plan project is to provide the council and state government with the evidence to support their decision-making processes related to the future of the site.
The consultants have undertaken extensive community consultation over the past six months and it is expected they will provide further detailed analysis on options for the future of the site in mid-March.
Further community engagement will then take place to present and gain feedback on the draft masterplan.
In their preliminary report, delivered last December, the consultants acknowledgement the tireless efforts of key community groups of Kyneton, especially the Town Square Reference Group, Kyneton Town Hub and CRAFT (Centre of Rare Arts and Forgotten Trades, Kyneton).
The Midland Express supports the community's calls for the site to be retained for community use and is hopeful the recommendations of the consultants will be strongly informed by the community's submissions.
To this end, we here present summaries of the three most substantial proposals submitted by community groups, in order to inform the wider community of the potential of a future town square for Kyneton.
THE KYNETON TOWN SQUARE REFERENCE GROUP ...
The Kyneton Town Square Reference Group comprises many community organisations and individuals who have come together to support the retention of the old primary school site, and surrounding open space, in public ownership primarily for public use.
KTSRG aims to create a town square which will help build strong, cohesive and resilient community ... a place where people feel they belong.
Everyone is welcome to participate in and join the group. Their website at kynetononline.org has plenty of background information including the complete Town Square Proposal they submitted to the government consultation process.
The group envisages the formation of a new, actively participatory, incorporated body to oversee community and commercial use of the precinct (working title: Kyneton and District Town Square Co Op).
The Co Op would, under its charter, be charged with administering, preserving and developing the town square precinct for the benefit of the whole of the community.
It would aim to bring together the energy of a range of Kyneton's community groups in one location…. groups like the Lions Club which began way back in the 1950s and has never had a secure home.
KTSRG supports the retention of the 1985 cream brick building as well as the original bluestone section. The 1985 cream brick extension could almost be described as purpose-built for community.
The group says the library, for example, has the potential of becoming a 200-seat auditorium, while the classrooms and ancillary rooms are ideal for a range of community activities and commercial application.
If the precinct was leased by the state government to council and then a licence issued to the Co Op at a peppercorn rent, the income for the proper upkeep of the buildings and surrounds would be the sole responsibility of the community.
The Co Op would need to collect rent from lease of space in the buildings. This income stream could include government-funded organisations as well as commercial tenants.
In the longer term, social enterprises like a market, an expo, festivals or a cafe could also create essential cash flow.
In this model the administration of the community centre would not rely on annual taxpayer funded grants for its financial viability. The Co Op would also act as philanthropic supporter of member groups and individuals who have little access to funding other than donations.
To start the ball rolling KTSRG has already announced a plan to create a community pledge fund with a minimum target of $150,000. The fund asks for 'one-off' or incremental commitments for up to five years.
The group is aiming to attract pledges from hundreds of residents.
For the Town Square Co Op, the number of pledges, rather than the amount pledged, is the most powerful figure. In regard to community ownership, a $10 pledge becomes just as important as a $100,000 donation.
The community chest will be officially launched early in March. The initiative in 1866 to build the original bluestone building was begun by donations of 296 pounds and four shillings from Kyneton and district residents.
"Perhaps it's time for history to repeat itself!" KTSRG says.
KTSRG steering committee members are Rob Bakes, Mark Ridgeway, Eric Dearricott, Peter Johnson, Alan Moor, Amanda Harland and Megan Jones.
KYNETON CRAFT PRECINCT INC ...
Kyneton CRAFT Precinct Inc (Centre of Rare Arts and Forgotten Trades, Kyneton) is a group working to ensure the current Kyneton Primary School site is retained for the benefit of the community using a sustainable model.
The Kyneton CRAFT proposal involves utilising the original heritage-listed KPS 343 buildings and immediate surrounds within the site. This site is only one third of the total area of the broader proposed Town Square Project identified as being bounded by Mollison, Baynton, Ebden and Simpson Streets.
The Kyneton CRAFT proposal aims to support the diverse nature of the community including groups, artists and tradespeople. Kyneton CRAFT believes all community spaces in the 'precinct' will need to be cost effective for the Town Square concept to be successful and a sustainable contribution to the future wellbeing of Kyneton.
The Kyneton CRAFT concept aims to create significant tourism opportunity for Kyneton and the region. Daylesford Macedon Tourism and local tourism groups, as well as individual tourism operators, support the Kyneton CRAFT proposal.
The Kyneton CRAFT concept supports the creation of workshops such as woodwork, iron and precious metals, leatherwork, and glass.
These workshops will be an integral part of the fabric of the precinct providing an education and training experience across all generations.
The Kyneton CRAFT concept promotes the heritage site as a 'living' exhibition space utilising the master tradespeople from the workshops to maintain the original building. A gallery space could operate within the building featuring products made on site, and for sale, as well as featuring visiting artists.
The Kyneton CRAFT concept creates an opportunity for Windarring Disability Services to be involved and to integrate naturally into the centre of the community in specific activity spaces. It would also provide community shared spaces for community groups within the school buildings for reasonable rental or in-kind support.
Retaining the current significant trees and playground and to develop the gardens and open spaces for community use and enjoyment is another aspect.
Developments may include raised garden beds, fruit trees, performance spaces and the potential for a sustainable "garden to plate" enterprise.
The Kyneton CRAFT concept will seek support from Victorian Heritage Council and the National Trust. The school could become a resource for both organisations, and other specialist organisations.
The Kyneton CRAFT concept has a business plan that includes potential for rental income from individual workshops, Windarring, hiring of spaces and some commercial activities such as the cafe and retail spaces. This ensures the precinct is sustainable.
The idea is for the precinct to be self-sufficient, self-funding and profitable with returns retained in the region while creating a clear future for trades and artisans, and becoming a tourism drawcard.
The business strategy involves establishing key partnerships with organisations and bodies that share a similar vision of arts and skilled trades to present new opportunities for economic growth and business development.
The Kyneton CRAFT Precinct Steering Committee comprises: Peter Nicolas, Chinka Steel, Chris O'Connor, Noel Harvey, Elizabeth Harvey, Karen Bloomfield and Fran Wigley.
KYNETON CONNECTIONS INC ...
Kyneton Connections Inc (the residents group which publishes the Kyneton Connect newsletter and hosts the Kyneton community website www.kyneton.org.au) has proposed that the old Kyneton Primary School buildings and grounds become the Kyneton Town Square, a precinct run by the community for the community.
"The Town Square would come to be seen as the centre of community life and activity of the town," the Kyneton Connections submission says.
Unlike most country towns Kyneton has little public open space in the centre of the township. Kyneton Connections proposes preservation of the open space of the site, removing the fences and opening it up for recreation and relaxation for people of all ages.
It proposes that the open areas be used for everyday relaxation and for children's play, as happens in central park areas in the city and other towns, but also for organised activities for all ages such as festivals, markets, concerts, games.
"It would be the go-to place for the community for outdoor events," Kyneton Connections says.
The school buildings, both the historic bluestone and the newer sections would be anchored by the permanent occupancy of existing community organisations such as U3A Kyneton and Windarring.
The Kyneton Community and Learning Centre, which already provides community building activities, education and training activities and occasional childcare five days a week, has also indicated an interest in locating activities in the old school.
Room use would be flexible and other community and commercial organisations could hire spaces on an ongoing basis for monthly or occasional activities or exhibitions or spaces for ongoing storage.
Kyneton Connections believes that while community activities should be central to the Town Square, commercial activity will be required for its ongoing viability.
They have proposed that that a number of commercial artisan workshops as proposed by CRAFT (Centre of Rare Arts and Forgotten Trades, Kyneton) be located at the old school, but are resistant to that activity controlling the entire site. Other businesses and services who believe the site would suit them would also be welcome.
Kyneton Connections believes that hire charges paid by the community occupants and the artisan workshops would be more than sufficient to meet the ongoing costs of running the Kyneton Town Square.
A gallery for the display of artworks and exhibitions is proposed as is a Kyneton information 'desk' which provides information about Kyneton and District, complementary to the Visitor Information Centre, to visitors and to residents.
Kyneton Connections has also encouraged the council to locate the proposed new Kyneton Kindergarten, the Maternal and Child Health Care Centre and the Toy Library at the Baynton Street site rather than on the new Primary School site in Edgecombe Street as is currently proposed.
Kyneton Connections believes that there may be space and traffic problems in Edgecombe Street.
The group's executive is Eric Dearricott, Jenny Hince, Doug Lyon and Wendy Pearce.