The ACT Government has commenced direct negotiations with the Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) on the future of the old Watson High School site.
Community consultation made clear the strong community support for the redevelopment of the site as a higher education precinct with student accommodation and preserved public green space.
We have listened to the community and our stakeholders and after extensive site investigations and careful consideration the government has decided to:
- retain responsibility for public green space on the site, including any upgrade and ongoing maintenance.
- enter into direct negotiations with the Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) with a view to reaching agreement on the terms for a direct sale of land to AIE.
- demolish and remediate the buildings on the site, prior to the sale of land.
The government and tenants are aware of existing asbestos in the buildings, which is safely managed under an ongoing Asbestos Management Plan.
Site investigations undertaken for the potential redevelopment have highlighted the need for government to demolish and remediate the buildings on site prior to any sale.
We have made contact with the current licensees of the site and are committed to working with them on transition options before any demolition occurs. The timing of demolition will depend on the outcome of the negotiation with AIE and will take into account any existing tenancy arrangements.
The ACT Government is now working with AIE to confirm the portion of land they will require to deliver a unique and specialised higher education facility for the computer games, animation and film industries, including ancillary student accommodation and co-working spaces.
The land the ACT Government retains will be allocated community green space so that this important community asset is preserved for the future.
Once negotiations are concluded, we will keep stakeholders and the community informed on the next steps.
As noted by John De Margheriti, CEO of AIE:
“Today’s announcement by the Chief Minister has generated a huge amount of excitement for AIE. The AIE is looking forward to working with the community and the games, animation and film industry to build a more progressive higher education precinct that fuses education and industry together alongside student accommodation. We hope to be able to realise our bold vision through working collaboratively with all concerned.”