An arrangement between two Government departments will see a former Denmark Agricultural College building retained for community use as a TAFE centre.
Education Minister Colin Barnett said today the Education Department had accepted an approach by the Department of Training to lease the old college’s administration building to form part of the Great Southern Regional College of TAFE.
“It’s very pleasing that Training has come up with this proposal to use the old administration centre,” Mr Barnett.
“It will mean the building not only remains in the community but can be used by a wide cross-section of that community which campaigned so hard to save it.”
Sections of the Denmark community had strongly lobbied Mr Barnett to preserve the building, which was part of Denmark Agricultural College until it was rebuilt on the college farm.
The Minister said the Education Department vacated this part of the site last year, demolishing some buildings and leaving the old administration and dormitory facilities.
He said the site, apart from the administration buildings TAFE will lease, was now home to the new $8 million Denmark High School which opened at the start of this year.
The administration building was not needed by the high school.
“The Education Department had no use for the building but it’s wonderful to see the Department of Training could use it and that it will therefore continue to be used for education purposes by the local community,” Mr Barnett said.
“This way, it’s a multi-education campus.”
Training Minister Mike Board said the deal, which would see courses start at the site in semester one next year, worked well for both parties.
“The lease will allow us to expand our range of vocational training courses and better meet demand in this growing region,” he said.
“A refurbishment will create a computer laboratory, art room, general-purpose classrooms and an administration and reception area while at the same time preserving some very nice old buildings.”
Mr Board said the renovation planning and building work would be mindful of the buildings’ historical aspects.
“Cultural heritage is and will be a major consideration throughout the planning and refurbishment process,” he said.
“Architect David Heaver is currently finalising the designs and the building works are expected to commence in mid-November.”
The work was expected to be completed next February.
The new facilities would enable the delivery of part-time small business management, office skills, viticulture, aquaculture, welding, women’s studies, art and design, music, computing, Landcare and forestry.
Certificate I in Horticulture and certificate III in Music Industry Skills would both be offered full-time.
“As with other regional campuses, the building and facilities will be available for public use under a user-pays system,” Mr Board said.
“The Great Southern Region is developing at a rapid rate and offering locals the opportunity to stay in the region for training that is relevant to them is a desirable goal.
“The Government realises that high-standard facilities are essential for effective vocational training and these new facilities can only go towards improving the local economy.”
Mr Barnett said a committee would draw up a business plan for the dormitories to see if a use could be found for the buildings.
Minister Barnett’s office: Diana Callander, 9222 9699
Minister Board’s office: Tamantha Smith 9222 9211