March 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm #254689
The Collingwood Children’s Farm (CCF) was established in 1979 as a not-for-profit, inner-city farm for the purpose of providing access to and education about Australia’s rich rural heritage to our urban communities. Under the 32-year stewardship of the CCF, the continued use of the farmland surrounding the Abbotsford Convent Complex (ACC) represents an almost unbroken use as such since 1838.
Viewed as a whole, the CCF/ACC is the only remaining inner-city site of Melbourne’s 19th Century farming heritage. There is no other example of a surviving inner-city monastic farm in Australia with the majority of its original farmland intact and still used for that purpose.
Recently a proposal was lodged with Heritage Victoria (on behalf of a private school – the Sophia Mundi Steiner School) to permit the first new major building on the ACC grounds since at least the early 1900’s, in the 4100 square metre paddock known as ‘St Mary’s’. This paddock has been actively used by the Farm since 1979, and is a key component of the Farm’s integrated paddock management system. Its removal from use will impact heavily on soil exhaustion, a major concern on a site farmed for 173 years. It is also integral to the Farm’s school education and community programs.
1. This open space is central to the heritage value of the Farm and ACC. This proposal destroys heritage value.
2. A key driver of the “Save the Convent” community campaign and the ensuing charter of the Abbotsford Convent Foundation (ACF) was to preserve the public open space for all Victorians. This proposal destroys public open space.
3. The Collingwood Children’s Farm’s viability is integral to maintaining the unique world heritage value of this Precinct. This proposal seriously threatens the long term viability of the Farm.
4. The ACF was entrusted with maintaining the ACC heritage vistas and buildings, including views of St Mary’s building. This proposal is a total breach of that trust.
5. Expanding enclosed private school facilities is fundamentally incompatible with maintaining the Convent’s public open space.
We ask Heritage Victoria to reject this proposal and direct the ACF to adhere to its Business Plan 2006-11, in particular:
‘the precinct is unique as it is the last intact 19th Century rural landscape in Melbourne. It creates an ‘island’ surrounded by the Yarra River and indigenous bushland. It has an inseparable relationship with the pastures of the Collingwood Children’s Farm, the Yarra River and the Capital City Bike Path (Main Yarra Trail), which are all very close by.’
We, the undersigned, oppose the Abbotsford Convent’s proposal to allow the Sophia Mundi Steiner School to build classrooms in St Mary’s/The Goat Paddock, on the grounds that this will deprive The Collingwood Children’s Farm and its many visitors of access to, and use of a paddock which has been farmland since 1838, and is invaluable to the Farm for its livestock, community and education programs.
We believe that the land should remain in public use, to benefit the wider community.March 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm #492945
Dan, I couldn’t agree with you more. It pains me that a Steiner School (with all its great ethos) has got itself into this position. My thoughts are that more people will benefit from the status quo remaining forever and the fact that surely classrooms can be built anywhere or made available from existing floor space in other parts of the convent site.
I think Rudolf will be spinning in his grave because of this situation and I just hope the only development that the Steiner School will do on this site is preperations 500, 501 etc etc.
Best of luck with maintaining St Marys paddock and good on you for raising the issue. Cheers, porgey.
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