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School is the top issue in Docklands

04 Feb 2013

The need for a school has emerged as the number one issue in Docklands, with January 30’s Docklands Community Forum exploring the issue in detail.

Places Victoria development director Joanne Wandel told the forum that work was continuing to secure a government primary school as well as attract a private school
to Docklands.

She said the Education Department was yet to release its feasibility study on a primary school for Docklands.

But, she said, her organisation had independently prepared a document and intended to “test the market” for a private school later this year.

It is understood that this means Places Victoria is likely to release an expression of interest similar to the process it is currently undertaking in relation to a place of worship.

Under this scenario, a site will be offered and the private sector will be invited to respond with proposals to develop a school.  

Places Victoria has earmarked a site in Harbour Esplanade within the Digital Harbour precinct for a school.  But Ms Wandel said other sites were also
potentially available.

Ms Wandel said if a private school was to proceed, this did not preclude a government school also being built in the future when greater demand could be demonstrated.

She said current projections indicated about 800 children under 14 in Docklands by 2016 and 3800 children in a wider “city west” catchment, which included the CBD and Fisherman’s Bend.

She said Places Victoria believed it needed less than a 3000 sqm footprint to build a “vertical school” of up to six storeys in Docklands.

Ms Wandel said models in New Zealand, Hong Kong and Denmark encouraged Places Victoria to believe that a vertical school could work in Docklands.

She said her board agreed that a school for Docklands was feasible and that feedback from the Docklands Community Forum had helped establish that opinion.

Forum member Albert Marcos said he had reported to the steering committee overseeing Docklands’ development that a school was necessary for a “well balanced community”.

Parent representative on the forum, Janine Stanfield, said Docklanders were increasingly being “zoned out” of schools in neighbouring areas.

She said many primary and secondary schools in surrounding suburbs had reduced their zones for the 2013 school year.

Ms Stanfield said Docklands was now zoned out of all public secondary schools and the Batman’s Hill precinct of Docklands was zoned out of all public primary schools.

Forum attendees suggested a number of activities to keep the school issue alive ranging from letter writing to public demonstrations.

Docklands Community Association president Roger Gardner pledged to take the matter up with the appropriate authorities.

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