Community groups offer vision for “deteriorating” Barkly Street campus

By Meg Saultry

Several Benalla community groups have expressed interest in re-purposing buildings within Benalla P-12 College's old Barkly St campus, as State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan continues to call on the state government to detail its plans for the site.

The old campus has recently been a target for vandalism, with windows and walls either broken or tagged, as well as beer bottles left strewn across the site.

Ms Ryan said the local community could not afford for the site to become a hotspot for vandalism, and cited the example of the Seymour East Primary School site, which was left abandoned for a number of years without a plan.

“We’ve seen this happen in the past in Seymour,” Ms Ryan said.

“It became a real problem for the surrounding neighbourhood.

“That is the last thing we want to happen here.

“For each passing day that the government remains idle on the Barkly St campus, the condition of the site deteriorates.”

Ms Ryan said it was important the government did not allow this process to drag out to a stage where buildings fell to the point of disrepair and nobody wanted to use them.

“At the moment we’ve got community groups who can see a way of re-purposing a lot of these buildings,” she said.

“Ideas proposed include an artists’ and permaculture hub and a tech school.”

Hotspot: Windows and walls of buildings at Barkly Street campus continue to deteriorate.

A spokesperson from the Department of Education and Training spokesperson said the department was investigating whether Benalla P-12 College’s Barkly St campus should be retained for educational purposes.

“Wodonga Senior Secondary College continue to use its flexible learning centre at the Barkly St campus,” the spokesperson said.  

Local Benalla resident Len Griffiths was also on hand last week to inspect the grounds, and even raised the idea of using parts of the campus to house homeless youth.

“It’s a fairly big facility, if they get moving now, they could divide it up into different areas,” he said.

“The gymnasium is excellent over there.

“The rest of this is starting to go to rack and ruin because there is no one around to look after it.”

Former Benalla Mayor Geoff Oliver also weighed in on the discussion, saying while it was too early to comment on a precise plan for the site, he believed the campus should be used to offer further education to the community, and if the government did sell parts of the site, its value should go back into the community.

Ms Ryan has urged community members to bring forward any ideas they have for the site.