Next station: Kingsmead College?

| September 17, 2010

It is certain that Miss DV Thompson, the founder of Kingsmead College in Rosebank, Johannesburg, never dreamed that there would one day be a train station quite literally on the school’s doorstep!


One can say with equal certainty that the arrival of the Gautrain will permanently change the face of the city. Current Headmistress Lisa Kaplan is determined that this school with a proud history will take such change in its stride, all the while cleaving to its traditional values of freedom and loyalty. “The advent of the new Rosebank
train station, as well as the brand new fleet of Gautrain buses, opens up exciting new marketing possibilities for us.”

Predetermined plans

Plans for the station were afoot before Kaplan – now in her fourth year of headship at Kingsmead – took up her post. Says Errol Braithwaite, Communication and Marketing Executive for the Bombela Concession Company (Pty) Ltd: “The Gautrain route and station locations were predetermined by the Gauteng provincial government. This was done through strong engagement with the metropolitan councils in the light of what nodes were seen to be developed in the future.”
According to Kaplan, legislation modified to prepare the city for the Gautrain included the expropriation of land. “So while we own some of the land at street level, the terrain underground is the property of the city.” Knowing, therefore, that the placement of the Rosebank station was inevitable, the school decided to embrace the change. “We formed our own special school committee to represent our interests, and participated in various environmental studies, and all of the consultative meetings. With Bombela, we are active members of the community liaison forum (CLF) in the Rosebank area.”
Bombela took the same proactive and cooperative approach, says Braithwaite. “We initiated contact with Kingsmead prior to construction and maintained close contact with the management and staff throughout the design and construction phases of the project. We’ve also been on hand at Kingsmead Open Days to talk about the project.”

Honesty and openness made the difference

Kingsmead was braced to weather the change, and some negative ‘hype’ was to be expected initially, says Kaplan. Some parents and other interested parties were anxious about the impact of the project on what was previously a quiet and secluded school. “Concerns included excess traffic and noise, possible loss of land and access to the school, and security.

“But Bombela instituted an ‘open door policy’, which allowed us to openly discuss any concerns or issues.” The issues included, of course, dust and noise. “We quickly found practical solutions,” remembers Kaplan, “like sealing the windows in affected classrooms, shifting locations for lessons where necessary, and installing air conditioning.

“Our worry that our buildings may shift because of the impact of piling proved to be unfounded, a testament to the original builders of Kingsmead and the strong foundations they ensured.” Bombela did everything in its power, says Kaplan, to ease difficult situations. “They installed noisemitigating soundproof barriers to
shield us as much as possible from the construction noise. The deep piling phase unfortunately coincided with our Matric examinations, and they graciously agreed to move operations to another locale on-site.”

Many positive spin-offs

As building progressed, so it became evident that permanent changes need to be made to the school’s former top entrance. In its place is a brand-new, stately boundary wall on Oxford Road. Tyrwhitt Avenue has been closed off completely. “The entire project has caused us to be more vigilant about security, which is never a bad thing,” says Kaplan.

Keeping the students and teachers – and the Rosebank community – safe included erecting a pedestrian bridge over Oxford Road during construction. “We were then able to take our girls to look down into the deep 60 m pit during excavation. We’ve all learned a lot about engineering and other related issues, and teachers were able to build exciting lessons around the project.”

Kaplan says she can think of only positive spin-offs to the station, which will be formally opened in March 2011 (the escalator and parking garage are currently under
construction). “The commercial area in Rosebank has received a total facelift. We hope the train and bus system will relieve some parents of an onerous lifting schedule,
and it will make finding our school a doddle!” It’s clear the arrival of the Gautrain is thus far a positive phenomenon. Indeed, confirms Kaplan – widely acknowledged
as a friendly energetic force – exciting new building projects are afoot at Kingsmead.

Her advice to other schools involved in large construction projects? “Get involved early, and learn as much as you can. Move out of your comfort zone and embrace the
future!”

Contact Kingsmead College:
Tel: +27 (11) 731 7300
Fax: +27 (11) 731 7399
Email: senior@kingsmead.co.za

Tags:

Category: Spring 2010 Edition

About the Author ()

News posts added for Independent Education by Global Latitude DMA

Comments are closed.