Letters of Support from our Local Community
The formal stage for making submissions about our proposal is now complete. We hope to be able to share news about the determination of our DA in the coming weeks. If you would like to voice you support please feel free to do so by emailing the school directly.
Max and Lorraine are the proud owners and custodians of Belmont (c1898) on Peats Ferry Road in Hornsby. They are also dear friends of our school and champions of this project. Their estate is a much celebrated and successful example of another sensitive and stunning adaptive re-use of Hornsby Heritage.
The submission of support provided by Max and Lorraine was so delightfully thorough we couldn't fit it here. Instead you can click here if you wish to read it in full. The stand out statement:
ADAPTIVE RE-USE is not only the best way to preserve a heritage estate - IT IS THE ONLY WAY!
I write to support the plan to open the Blue Gum School in Hornsby. As a local resident and parent who is passionate about my young child receiving a wholistic, child centred and progressive education, this school is a dream come true. It’s location is a calm, beautiful spot which will allow children to grow an awareness of nature, history and culture that cannot be found in large schools. The philosophy and aspirations behind this project are heartfelt and inspiring and will be of incredibly powerful impact to the lucky children who attend. This area needs more schools. We have the chance of one opening in the historical heart of Hornsby. What a blessing. The people behind the project are passionate, experienced professionals who, I feel, will create a place that educates the children with far more than curriculum outcomes.
I’m a paediatrician and a local resident, and I’m also a father of two young children, and I’m delighted that an application has been made to set a preschool and primary school in the Mount Errington Estate. We need this school more than they need us. I’ve followed the progress of this application from the outset, and I would like to commend the applicant for being transparent, sensitive to feedback and persistent in the face of constant criticism. I want to address three concerns. First, that the heritage value of the estate will be diminished. There’s no value in having a heritage estate that cannot be accessed, and by becoming a preschool and school, this will allow the next generation of residents to experience the estate and breathe life into it. The applicant’s sensitive restoration of this site maintains and in no way diminishes the historic value of the site. I think that’s an important point. Second, the landscaping and tree scape. The ethos of the proposed school is to embrace Australian context, environment and inheritance. Apart from a few necessary removals for safety, the landscaping is not going to be significantly affected, and the professional arborist reports bear this out.Third, relating to traffic congestion and noise, the professional reports do not bear out the concerns of others about this. This is going to be a small school. Many of the people attending are likely to be local and walk or ride there, and so there won’t be that many cars added to the current level of – the current traffic volume, and I have not seen any evidence submitted by others that negates the professional impact reports. We need to rely on the professionals and their opinions. Personally, I can testify to the difficulty in finding appropriate preschool and primary school facilities in the area and, in particular, none that incorporate the values that I love about this community, with the integration of environment and history in the curriculum. I wholeheartedly support the application, and say again that we need this school more than they need us.
I would like to convey my support for The Blue Gum School's application to establish a Preschool and small Community School on the site of Mt Errington in Hornsby. As a resident of Hornsby Shire Council for 46 years of my life and as a passionate Early Childhood Teacher for over 24 years, I believe that this project will bring a well needed educational alternative to families in our community, which doesn't currently exist. From my research into their proposed development, I am one hundred percent assured that the heritage value of this amazing historic property will be respected, revered and shared in a way that will bring Mt Errington back to life for all to enjoy. From what I know of the Blue Gum School in Canberra, I am very excited to see that such a creative, dynamic and community based progressive school will extend its reach to our community here in Hornsby. I predict that this service will also bring notoriety, interest and tourism to the Hornsby area once it is running, with students and educators from across the globe coming to see this model of excellence in education, which will be a beneficial bi-product of this project. In summary, this project is an exciting addition to the Hornsby area, bringing with it cultural, historical, educational and community benefits for all.
This is a beautiful heritage building but one which I believe needs to be developed by a party sympathetic to maintaining the integrity of the building and the site. I am convinced the proposal to use the building as a pre/primary school is a wonderful way to both preserve the home and to make it useful again. I am not at all sure anyone will buy it to use as a single family dwelling given the limitations of a heritage listed property which leaves it open to other, perhaps less desirable, uses. I believe the developers of the school have gone to great lengths to comply with objections, many of which are understandable. I believe the end product will be a positive use of the property and one that will have very limited negative impacts on the community.
I am writing to offer my wholehearted support for the proposal of the new Blue Gum School. We already know that education is key. Education also isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. In a world that is slowly becoming more inclusive, more accepting of diversity and more unwilling to push anybody who is “different” aside, it’s becoming more obvious that our Education overarching principles and methods also need to change and adapt. We need more schools whose focus on learning outcomes is beyond the curriculum; where differences are celebrated, and individuality encouraged and learning is tailored to meet specific children’s specific needs. This is the world we should want to live in, and this is where the smaller, independent, progressive schools such as the Blue Gum School have such an integral part to play in our communities. As a local, and a parent, I know that new schools are always needed. To have a new school like The Blue Gum School open locally, headed by professional educators with a wealth of experience, who ARE thinking outside the mainstream box and who are planning a beautiful, inclusive and progressive learning environment – this is absolutely something to be celebrated. It’s also heart-warming to see how respectfully the beautiful historical building and lands have been treated and it’s doubly heart-warming to know that the beautiful space isn’t going to be taken over by high-density dwellings. I appreciate that the planning for the building and the land has been done by locals who have obviously ploughed their hearts and souls into respecting the space, and it hasn’t been left to the mercy of an absent investor. Opening a new school in a historical building in the suburbs isn’t progress just for progress’ sake. It’s progress that will benefit the whole community. Hornsby will be lucky to gain a new school in an ideal location, preserve this historical building, and know that the education of the children lucky enough to attend the Blue Gum School will be on the right path.
Blue Gum Community School at Mount Errington will be unique, different to the ‘typical’ preschools that we have become accustomed to seeing ‘pop up’ almost overnight, in our local communities. Many of the “cookie-cutter” preschools that emerge have built structures that consume almost the entire section of land, leaving almost no natural vegetation. Such places have no natural outdoor space for children to play and explore. Such preschools often belong to large, franchised companies that simply aim to be financially successful. There is no consideration for the proximity to residents as well as the impact to local infrastructure and the impact on the local environment. These are not the settings in which we want to see young creative, innovative, resourceful, resilient children. Blue Gum Community School will be situated on over 3600sqm at Mount Errington. A large beautiful natural space that is home to so many trees and beautiful gardens. A magnificent space for children to play, imagine, create, learn and explore in nature. Mount Errington is a place of rich history and strong heritage and I cannot think of anyone more deserving to have the opportunity to learn and grow in this special place than children. What an amazing gift for the children of the Hornsby area, children who are our future leaders and caretakers of the land to develop a rich relationship with Mount Errington and the local community. Learning to understand, appreciate, respect, and honour the heritage of Mount Errington and the land on which it is built. This relationship and connection with Mount Errington and the local community, that these children (citizens and leaders of the future) will value, will ensure the history and heritage of this magnificent place will endure for future generations. May new life emerge from the hopes and dreams of young children at Mount Errington.