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Private schools face competition as park lands sport leases go up for grabs

Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith has questioned why suburban private schools are able to lease park lands sporting grounds and suggested city schools be given preference, as sporting clubs eye a site now used by a prominent city college.

Mar 06, 2024, updated Mar 06, 2024
King Rodney Park / Ityamai-itpina (Park 15). This picture: Adelaide City Council's Park Land Authority

King Rodney Park / Ityamai-itpina (Park 15). This picture: Adelaide City Council's Park Land Authority

Adelaide City councillors at last night’s City Community Services and Culture Committee meeting discussed renewing the leases of eight park land sites, with Prince Alfred College’s lease being flagged for further investigation before renewal. 

Currently, Prince Alfred College (PAC) leases the building and playing fields of King Rodney Park/Ityamai-itpina off of Dequetteville Tce from the city. 

The Goodwood Saints Football Club and Goodwood Cricket Club have submitted an expression of interest for the park currently leased by PAC. 

In an agenda note brought to the committee, the Kadaltilla/Adelaide Park Lands Authority recommended PAC as the head lessee, but suggested the council administration investigate if it is feasible for the two organisations to share the grounds. 

Prince Alfred College headmaster David Roberts told the committee last night that the school had spoken to representatives from the Goodwood Saints and Goodwood Cricket clubs and understood they wanted to engage in a sub-leasing arrangement. 

PAC currently sublease their fields to the Adelaide Raiders Soccer Club and has temporarily subletted the space to other groups as well.  

“Our stance is there is a desire from both groups to work together to achieve a positive outcome,” Roberts said. 

“We are both conscious of managing the overuse of public facilities but understand they [the Goodwood Saints & Goodwood Cricket Clubs] are only seeking Sunday mornings for their junior program and Monday evenings as well, as they are also struggling to get access to ovals.” 

When the council scored clubs on selection criteria to lease the park lands, it found that both PAC and the Goodwood clubs  met the same standards in terms of supporting the purpose of the park lands. However, PAC gained additional points for  demonstrating the ability to maintain the facilities to council standards in the past. 

Roberts said PAC currently spent $70,000 annually on the upkeep of their park lands facilities.

A Google Maps screenshot shows the location of King Rodney Park, where PAC runs their sporting activities.

Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith raised a broader question of equity regarding which clubs are accessing the park lands, noting that some private schools leasing the fields are from the eastern suburbs.

Of the four schools with leases set for renewal, three are private: Wilderness School, Pembroke School, and Scotch College.

The Norwood/Unley High Rowing Club is the only public school using park land facilities up for renewal.

Lomax-Smith questioned whether there should be a different rate or a preference given to city schools. 

“It seems extraordinary that the school of Pembroke… should be using the park lands when they have fields out near the school, and they buy land out by the school and they’re quite an expensive school to send children to,” she said.

Pembroke School is one of the current lessee’s up for renewal for their use of the building at Tarntanya Wama (Park 26) associated with rowing on the River Torrens/Karrawirra Pari. 

Pembroke School has two campuses located within a five-minute walk of each other, connected by the Kensington Park Reserve Oval as well as having sporting facilities located on the River Torrens and in the southern park lands.

Currently, the park lands leasing license policy distinguishes between schools, education institutions and community clubs and associations. However, there is no distinction between private or public schools or city or outer-city schools as a factor in how park lands space is allocated or leased.

The park lands lease and licensing policy will come back to the committee later in the year, with the council administration noting there’s an opportunity to look at the decision-making framework for the use of the park lands at that time. 

Another lease with a caveat to renewal is Wilderness School Ltd’s use of Lefevre Park/Nantu Wama, as two southern tennis courts have been identified to be removed due to their poor condition. 

While there is no current plan to replace the tennis courts, if they are removed the council will discuss what to do with that space, with administration noting “it is next to a very nice tree so the most obvious solution would be to grass it”. 

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