Growing pains only getting worse: calls continue for the Costco site to become a new school

Growing pains only getting worse: calls continue for the Costco site to become a new school
Sean Car

Pleas continue to mount for the state government to purchase the Costco site for a badly-needed secondary school for Docklands, as the supermarket giant confirms it will vacate its premises by the end of the year.

Docklands News reported in its February edition that Costco had announced it would relocate from its current site at The District Docklands to Ardeer, with the move prompting calls for the state government to purchase the land for a school.

In February, Costco confirmed via a press release that its “Ardeer warehouse will open, and the Docklands warehouse will close in late 2024”, paving the way for a buyer to claim ownership of the site by 2025.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said that the Victorian Schools Building Authority (VSBA) had not undertaken any assessment of the Footscray Rd site and was therefore unable to comment on its suitability for a new school.

“To ensure robust planning for growth, the Department reviews the need for new schools using a range of metrics including demographic modelling of residential growth, demographic change and enrolment trends at schools across Victoria,” the spokesperson told Docklands News.

“This has resulted in the opening of second campuses of Docklands Primary School and North Melbourne Primary School.”

But while the latter of those two campuses is a modern, purpose-built, stand-alone school, the Docklands Primary School (DPS) campus, opened last year, occupies unused space in The District Docklands shopping centre.

DPS parent Mary Masters said a new school at the Costco site would not only be perfect for a new secondary school, but also provide extra space for the primary school, which was “bursting at the seams”.

“I’ve heard positive community sentiment for turning the Costco site into a high school. It’s a huge site and would be perfect for a school and could provide shared amenities for the existing Docklands Primary School,” she said.

“Inner city families – specifically those of us within the Docklands Primary School vicinity – are crying out for more school options. We will outgrow the ‘temporary’ campus, opened this year in The District Docklands, as early as next year.”


Docklands kids are zoned to University High School, which is already over capacity: our 110 DPS foundation year Preps are in Grade 3 this year and when they graduate at the end of 2027 this will further increase enrolment pressures on University High School.


Ms Masters said a new vertical school, which could accommodate 1500 students across Years 5 to 12, would allow the existing DPS to operate at its capacity of 100 students in each year.

“A significant secondary school of 1500-plus students could bring further economic investment to the northern end of Docklands and increase foot traffic and patronage at local businesses – it could add to the Docklands community as opposed to Costco which just causes weekend traffic jams.”

However, while supportive of the idea of a new school at the Costco site, Ms Masters added that she was more hopeful of a new high school being constructed in the Arden urban renewal precinct in North Melbourne in the short term.

The state government has just completed the first of five new Metro Stations in Arden, and much of the land in the precinct is government-owned making planning for schooling infrastructure much easier.

In December, deputy secretary of strategy and precincts at the Department of Transport and Planning Natalie Reiter told sibling publication North West City News that there was land planned for a school in Arden, with “significant conversations” already held with the Victorian School Building Authority.

Ms Reiter said this included “what that school would look like, the land area required and the need to have a model similar to that at Fishermans Bend, where the school children can access the neighbouring park area for play and recreation”.

A spokesperson for the Docklands Representative Group (DRG) said the idea of a new high school at the Costco site presented an “intriguing opportunity” to leverage existing infrastructure for education, which it suggested could bring “significant benefits”.

“Not only would it provide much-needed space for our growing population, but it could also pragmatically help with revitalising the area, including creating opportunities for collaboration between students and local businesses,” the spokesperson said.

“While cost considerations and logistical challenges, including traffic management, are undoubtedly needed, exploring innovative solutions could mitigate these concerns. Overall, this proposal has the potential to positively impact both education and the local community, provided that careful planning and collaboration are prioritised.”

Greens State MP for Melbourne Ellen Sandell has also thrown her support by a new high school at the Costco site, urging the government to invest in the community infrastructure that Docklands families “actually need”.

For more, read Ms Sandell’s regular State MP column. •

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