Docklands is offered a primary school


Docklands has been offered a primary school, which could be open by the start of the 2013 school year.

Digital Harbour developer David Napier has revealed plans for an eight-storey community building, and two storeys have been earmarked for a school.

Mr Napier has offered the building to the City of Melbourne under an attractive financial arrangement which means the council would not have to borrow funds and would end up owning the freehold.

The inclusion of the school is part of a bid to secure the proposed Docklands library and community centre for Digital Harbour.

The City of Melbourne and VicUrban want to build a library and community centre in Docklands but don’t have enough money. They have allocated $9 million between them and have called for expressions of interest from developers.

Lend Lease is also bidding for the library and community centre and wants to locate it as part of a civic centre at Bourke Square at the intersection of Collins and Bourke streets on Victoria Harbour.

Mr Napier thinks the inclusion of a school in his bid makes Digital Harbour a more attractive option. As well as a library and community centre, the Digital Harbour option also houses a childcare facility.

The Government is considering sites for an inner-city primary school, including E-Gate to the immediate north of Digital Harbour, but the E-Gate development won’t start until November 2014 at the earliest.

A different part of Digital Harbour was last year earmarked for a primary school but the State Government says it has only now instigated a feasibility study despite such an announcement being made last July by former Education Minister Bronwyn Pike.

A spokesperson for the Minister for Education Martin Dixon said the feasibility study would look at locations and future demographics

of an area ranging from Moonee Valley Racecourse to Fishermans Bend.

The spokesperson said the likely footprint of a high-rise school meant the department had to develop a brand new methodology for the study. He said Mr Napier’s offer sounded attractive, but any decision about the location of a school would be made by the Education Department.

A spokesperson for the Education Department said: “The department is aware of Digital Harbour’s proposal. The department is currently awaiting the outcome of an independent feasibility study into a school for Docklands to assist with its future school planning.”

Mr Napier’s plans for a mixed use community centre including a Docklands school are modelled on “ideas centres” which successfully currently operate in multi-storey buildings in London. His suggested plans show seven “open plan learning environment” class rooms on each floor.

“But the really attractive part to the Government is that the school could start with 150 children on one floor only and later expand to the other floor when demand increased in the future,” Mr Napier said.

Mr Napier said the school would be able to use a 1200sqm park at the base of the building but would also have the ability to turn multi-functional activity rooms into outdoor facilities if it chose to. The public library facilities downstairs could also be used by the school.

He said the community building was located off LaTrobe St and incorporated a driveway and short-term parking so parents could safely drop off their children.

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