Battle for Hill End's beloved school site

Hill End Community Inc members want to retain the former primary school and public school building for public use. Barb Harding, Gail Mort, Tia Van Horick (back) and Peter Marslen, Heather Marslen, Ron Bowley, Ann Cliff and Neville Cliff (front). photograph hayley mills

Hill End Community Inc members want to retain the former primary school and public school building for public use. Barb Harding, Gail Mort, Tia Van Horick (back) and Peter Marslen, Heather Marslen, Ron Bowley, Ann Cliff and Neville Cliff (front). photograph hayley mills

Hill End Community Inc is calling for public support to prevent the rezoning and sale of the of the former Hill End Primary School site, used regularly by the public for various classes, markets and activities.

It comes after the Department of Education and Training declared the site surplus to requirements and the Department of Treasury and Finance announced it intended to sell the land, assuming the site is successfully rezoned for rural living.

Baw Baw Shire's acting director of corporate and community services Malcolm Lewis said council believed a transfer of the land to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and formal tenancy with Hill End Community Inc was a better outcome and that council understood this was agreed.

"Baw Baw Shire Council determined that it was not in a position to purchase the former Hill End Primary School site... the refusal under First Right of Refusal was simply a formal step in the process to achieve this outcome (transfer to DELWP)," he said.

Hill End Community Inc president Chris Williams said a public meeting would be held tonight for community members to discuss the proposed rezoning and sale, and to gauge whether there was enough community support to make a submission to the Government Land Standing Advisory Committee to prevent the rezoning of the site.

"We were under the impression that (the site) would be transferred to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning," she said.

Ms Williams estimated the site was used by community groups three times a month.

"Since the formation of Hill End Community Inc, Hill End has been re-vitalised and the former school site has again been a very social centre for the area," she said.

"This list of activities held is extensive and has catered for all ages and interests."

Ms Williams said the group would ultimately like to see the site transferred to DELWP and for it to remain public land.

"If any of these events are to continue, if Hill End is to maintain its momentum of a social community, the fight must be mounted to not have the site re-zoned for rural lifestyle living."

Victorian Department of Education and Training senior media adviser Alex Munro said the process of deciding what to do with the surplus land was ongoing.

"We are still investigating options for the former Hill End Primary School site, working with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning," he said.

The public meeting will be held at the former Hill End Primary School site at 7.30pm tonight. All community members are welcome to attend.

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