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Spirit of Play’s future guaranteed

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Camera IconS Credit: Carl Heslop

A Denmark school has received approval to operate from a reserve site for another 15 years, despite the concerns of local groups.

At last week’s Shire of Denmark council meeting, councillors voted to allow Spirit of Play Community School to continue to operate at the former Denmark railway station site until 2033.

The school had wanted a 21-year lease but Shire chief executive Bill Parker recommended the shorter length as a compromise with other local groups, which had voiced concern on the school’s proposal.

“The proposal is consistent with a number of elements in the Strategic Community Plan, namely heritage, education and economy,” his report to the council said. “In this situation, it can be seen as competing, particularly when you put heritage against education and economy.”

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As well as developing the area to accommodate more students, the school plans to build a nature play area for the public and install interpretative signs to highlight the history of the precinct.

The council’s decision has received criticism from the Denmark Historical Society and the Denmark Machinery Restoration Group, with DHS deputy chairman Ashleigh Murch writing to the council warning the site was not an appropriate location for the school.

The concerns includes limitation on future development to attract visitors; the public feeling uncomfortable entering a school site; and restrictions on parking space at Lions Lair.

“Whilst the Denmark Historical Society and the Denmark Machinery Restoration Group have agreed to compromise, they wanted to make it clear that this is not to be seen as them being agreeable to a school being located on the historical precinct,” Mr Parker wrote in the report to the council.

Spirit of Play Community School chairman Carl Heslop said the council decision had been a great win for the school, which was planning to improve the heritage site. The school has also agreed to work with the DHS to preserve and display relics found on the land.

“As the future historians of Denmark, our students love learning about our shared history,” Mr Heslop said.

“This lease brings stability and an acknowledgement of our important place in Denmark’s community.

“This will be a multi-year staged project with strong collaboration with the Denmark Historical Society and other groups to achieve common goals.”

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