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Local school approved

29 Oct 2015

Local school approved Image

Docklands families will have a local school option after Melbourne councillors last month approved a proposal for a vertical school on King St.

Private school Haileybury College will open an early learning centre at the CBD campus as early as next year and will cater for prep to year 12 students from 2017 and 2018.  

The school will be a first for the city and comes as a great relief to inner-city families who have thus far lacked local schooling options.

The approval is particularly impressive considering the school proposal was initially met with 62 objections relating primarily to traffic and congestion concerns.

However, following a consultation session with objectors, by the time councillors considered the proposal at the September 6 Future Melbourne Committee Meeting not one objection remained.

The major turn-around was achieved after the school agreed to drop the number of enrolled students from 1300 students by 2025 to just 774 students.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle expressed his amazement at the turn of events, saying he had “never seen this before”.

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen an application where there were 62 objections and no objections on the night (when the proposal was considered by council) because the applicant has been prepared to work with those objections, particularly around number of students and therefore traffic and I think that is a great credit to Haileybury,” Cr Doyle said.

The approved proposal will see an existing 10-storey vacant office tower on King St, just west of LaTrobe St, refurbished to cater for an early learning centre and a prep-to-year-12 school.

The school, which also has campuses in Keysborough, Brighton and Berwick, purchased the building from Singaporean developer Aspial Corporation last year for $50 million.
Haileybury College principal Derek Scott said the school started to consider a CBD school six years ago and began closely analysing demographic data.
“It became clear about four years ago that trends were continuing and that the short-term trends and long term demographic trends were in support of an inner-city school,” Mr Scott said.
He said a KPMG study supported the long-term trends over the next 30 years.
Mr Scott said the school hoped to begin refurbishment work in November.
Refurbishment plans include alterations to the buildings exterior; outdoor play areas on the podium and building roofs; and creating sports and indoor recreation facilities on the top floor.
The proposal also includes a plan to create a pick-up and drop-off area on the upper level of the basement in a bid to reduce traffic congestion on the street.
School starting times will also be staggered for the junior, middle and senior schools to lessen the traffic impact of students arriving and departing.
Mr Scott said the school didn’t want to bring more cars into the city and would be covering the cost of public transport for staff.
“We think this should be an opportunity to provide an education facility that’s sustainable and sees people walk, ride bikes and catch public transport in,” Mr Scott said.
He said the school had already received an “extraordinary response” from the public with two-thirds of enquiries coming from within the City of Melbourne region.
Mr Scott said most of the enquiries had been received from the CBD, Docklands, Kensington and West Melbourne from people struggling to find spaces for their children in local schools.
Local parent and Docklands Community Forum representative Janine Standfield welcomed news of a local school but said a local public school was still needed.
“We welcome any school, but this won’t alleviate the issue that there should be public schooling options for local families,” Ms Standfield said.
Cr Jackie Watts also commented on the need for local public schooling at the Future Melbourne Committee Meeting last month saying; “I hope it (Haileybury College’s CBD campus) will be complemented before too long with some state education.”
The Department of Education and Training (DEET) is currently completing a review to assess school needs in Docklands, North Melbourne, the CBD and Carlton.
It will hold a workshop in Docklands on Thursday, October 29 from 6pm to 8pm at the Melbourne Star.
DEET spokesperson Steve Tolley said: “A workshop is being held to ask local people for feedback on the review’s approach and help develop a rigorous process for determining school provision needs, as well as share information and explore local issues and perspectives.”
“The review is expected to focus on the Docklands and the immediately surrounding areas of North Melbourne, West Melbourne, Melbourne, Parkville and Flemington. The opportunity to refine the review area will be provided during the workshop.”
“The department remains on course to complete this review by the end of the year,” Mr Tolley said.

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