Local residents are crying out for more community space. One suggestion that is being investigated by the Greater Sydney Commission is to share local resources. The aim of the proposal is to unlock underutilised assets for community use in places such as schools and churches. For example, local schools have sporting grounds that are only used during the day, but are then locked off for use by the community after hours.
We need to be thinking creatively about how we can create a win-win solution for both the school and the community. The local Council has a role to play in this. Using the example of a local sports club that needs access to a playing field: in exchange for making the school’s playing grounds available after hours, the Council could pay for improvements at the school such as new toilets, lighting, fencing, grandstands, or even provide mowing services to the school, thereby saving it money that can better be spent on educational resources.
Making school fields available to the local community has several knock on benefits:
- The proposal increases the amount of playing fields open to sports clubs in the local area
- By increasing the number of playing fields, it better shares the load and decreases the wear and tear on existing fields – which is a significant issue in our area.
- Schools benefit because they get new improvements at no cost to them. This is significant. Schools can spend their money elsewhere, and still have their facilities upgraded – merely by making an asset available after hours that isn’t being used anyway.
- Passive surveillance: Increasing the number of people who are around schools in the evening provides passive surveillance; an extra set of eyes to deter anti-social behaviour after hours.
This shared space idea works not only for sporting clubs, but for community groups and non-profit groups who are seeking community meeting spaces. By thinking outside of the box, we can create a situation that benefits all stakeholders.