UPDATE: On Thursday 21 May 2020 I met the Minister for Education in Parliament House, and she gave me a commitment in writing that no fencing around the oval will be built before a full community consultation process about access to green space - which will happen after the construction work is finished.
The Minister has also personally committed to full community access to the school-owned green space until consultation is finished. That includes the oval and Toowong Creek. Access to Vera St Community Garden and the attached Vera St Common will of course continue.
Toowong and Taringa residents are deeply concerned about existing and future restrictions on access to much-loved green space, walking and cycling routes at Queensland Academy for Science Mathematics and Technology (QASMT).
These restrictions or proposed restrictions include:
- Closure of the gate on Vera St for access to Vera St Community Garden
- The proposed fence around the QASMT campus south of Toowong Creek including the main school oval
- Proposed restrictions on the use of walking and cycling routes across the campus, including the route along Toowong Creek from Bywong and Vera St to Miskin St, and the route from Dampier St to Miskin St.
- Closure of the pedestrian bridge over Toowong Creek in Soudan St
There are some temporary restrictions on access while QASMT finishes a construction project, and there may be some changes required by COVID-19 rules and social distancing. The community wants to make sure any restrictions on access are not permanent.
Generations of families and local kids have treasured these quiet green spaces, especially along Toowong Creek.
Local people have been allowed to access this site since the 1800s when it was the residence of Sir Arthur Palmer, the 7th Premier of Queensland. The site was bequeathed to the Queensland government on the understanding that public access be maintained. For years local residents have used the ovals and green space and have walked and cycled along the pathway along Toowong Creek.
Today, that pathway is designated as a “Secondary Cycle Route” on the Brisbane City Council’s Bicycle Network Overlay Map. That status shows just how deeply integrated this space is in our community.
The Queensland Academy for Science Mathematics and Technology is an important part of the Toowong and Taringa community. Residents are seeking to maintain a respectful and constructive relationship with the school, staff and students, some of whom are also locals.
I have written to the Education Minister on 29 April 2020 and again on 7 May 2020 advocating long-term community access. You can read my letter here. I have also written to Councillor James Mackay and the Lord Mayor to make sure Brisbane City Council protects the Council-designated Secondary Cycle Route which runs from Vera and Soudan St along Toowong Creek to Miskin St.
I and my office have been deeply engaged with the construction at QASMT for years now. On 9 November 2018 I made a detailed submission on the original development plans under the Ministerial Infrastructure Designation. The approved development plans explicitly stated that the Minister understood that public access to the site would be maintained. I wrote to the Principal back in November 2018 on the question of public access to and through the site.