Kyneton residents are stepping up a campaign for the former Kyneton Primary School site to be run by the community.
Community members have formed a reference group and are conducting their own meetings about the site’s future ahead of the council’s planned consultation process.
Kyneton resident of 27 years Rob Bakes said residents wanted to ensure the government knew what the community wanted when deciding on the future of the Baynton Street property.
“It’s people in communities who really know what the community needs,” Mr Bakes said.
He said the new Kyneton Town Square Reference Group, “represents a wide and diverse range of community groups and individuals”.
The group includes representatives from Kyneton Connections, Kyneton Community Learning Centre, U3A, Kyneton Men’s Shed, and the Lions Club of Kyneton.
Mr Bakes said meetings are “completely open” to anyone interested, and Macedon Ranges councillors were among the crowd at the first four gatherings.
Two other local groups, Kyneton Town Hub and Kyneton Transition Hub, are also running Dare to Dream discussions with residents to establish what locals want to happen with the site and to strengthen and inform the council’s formal consultation process.
Mr Bakes said the community’s general desire was the “area being kept in public ownership, primarily for public use”.
He said the reference group was pushing for “strong democratic control of the precinct by the Kyneton community”, just as the Kyneton Show and Kyneton Football Club are run.
Kyneton Town Square Reference Group is also considering the future of public land and buildings in Kyneton more broadly than just the former school site.
Mr Bakes has written to the council to ask it to consider “long-term planning to develop a concept plan for the whole central area” of Kyneton CBD.
Last month the state government announced funding for a master plan and community consultation process to determine the former primary school site’s future, to be carried out by Macedon Ranges council.
The state is contributing $55,000 to the process, and the council $10,000 in funds and $15,000 of in-kind support.
When the master plan was announced mayor Jennifer Anderson encouraged “everyone to consider all possible uses for the site”.
“Council has committed to investigating the site as a community space,” Cr Anderson said.
However, Mr Bakes said there was skepticism about what the consultation process would involve and achieve.
Last week the council appointed consultants Ethos Urban for the project. Consultation should begin soon and the draft master plan is expected to be released for comment early next year.