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Editions

Two schools are better than none

03 Sep 2013

Docklands may get its own public primary school as well as a privately-operated one.

The education department is considering a state primary school in Digital Harbour but not on the site originally earmarked for the purpose.

The department was apparently uninterested in the allocated site on Harbour Esplanade because of a clause in an agreement, which would see the site revert to the developer if construction was not started by the end of next year.

However, a land-exchange deal between the developer and Places Victoria now means that the Government has extra time to prepare.

In May, Places Victoria announced it was seeking bids for the development and operation of a privately-operated primary school for the Digital Harbour site.

It is widely believed that Places Victoria received little interest from private schools.

However, it is understood that Places Victoria is talking to a developer and a private school about a different site within Docklands.

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development says it is interested in Digital Harbour but the developer is tight-lipped.

A department spokesperson said: “Digital Harbour is one of a number of sites under consideration for a future government primary school. Discussions continue between the department and the relevant agencies regarding how to best meet the future infrastructure needs of the growing Docklands and North Melbourne communities.”

Digital Harbour director David Napier said he could offer no comment at this stage.

The original Digital Harbour school site was part of Digital Harbour’s developer agreement with Places Victoria.  Under the agreement, work on a school needed to have “substantially commenced” by December 31 next year or the site would have been returned to Digital Harbour.

By exchanging this site with another of similar size located in the middle of the precinct the time pressure surrounding starting a school development is released.

The number of children aged 14 and under is predicted to reach 750 by 2016, making action on a school increasingly necessary.

Docklands Community Forum representative Janine Standfield has been the strongest campaigner for a local school.

Ms Standfield said she welcomed any plans for a Docklands school.

“It would be terrific to see the public school option being explored,” Ms Standfield said.

Representatives from the department met with City of Melbourne last month to brief councillors on current plans.

Cr Ken Ong said the department did not indicate plans for a Docklands school and focused on plans for North Melbourne and Fisherman’s Bend.

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