St Catherines new $69 million development
The oldest independent girls' school in Australia is in a battle with local councils, residents and NSW Police over its $63 million expansion plans for a 500-seater "world-class auditorium", aquatic centre, research facility and multi-purpose hall.
St Catherine's School, in Sydney's eastern suburbs, is seeking to increase its student numbers by 25 per cent in its submission to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.
The development application currently does not adequately address these issues.
The development includes......wait for it- a swimming pool, shallow pool, water polo and diving facilities, as well as an orchestral pit and a fly tower for state-of-the-art theatre productions where 120 events are expected to be hosted each year.
Data from the MySchool website reveals that the Waverley school has already breached its student cap by more than 20 students, generating an extra $700,000 in revenue per year, while also garnering up to $2.8 million in donations for the development. The school has a total net-recurrent income of $27 million per year.
A submission to the Planning Department from NSW Police argues that residents will be adversely and unreasonably impacted by the proposed development on the 23,000-square-metre site, along with the increase of 200 students over a 15-year period.
"The development application currently does not adequately address these issues," wrote NSW Police Traffic Sergeant Luke Barrett.
Waverley Council's submission states that the development "substantially breaches height and development standards" of the local environment plan.
Both the local council and police state that the development should be contingent on St Catherine's building a 200-space car park to alleviate congestion.
St Catherine's has offered 19 spaces.
In its response to the recommendations last month the school – which charges students $27,000 a year – said it would tweak the timetabling of events, ensure that they were school-only, stagger finish times and encourage car pooling.
Resident Cathy Davitt said that the school had been "arrogant" in its consultation with the community and that the latest concessions did not go far enough.
"Their whole idea of community is [skewed]," she said. "We have barely been consulted by the school on these huge.
"I just think they have no idea of the impact this has on local residents. They have shown no intention of alleviating any of these concerns."
St Catherine's is the latest in a line of rapidly expanding private schools to fall foul of residents.
In July, Scots College in Bellevue Hill failed in its legal bid to expand its student numbers by almost a third after residents accused it of "development by stealth", while Trinity Grammar in Summer Hill has drawn condemnation from residents for constructing a new multimillion-dollar school hall, gym and car park facility.
St Catherine's has been asked by the Department of Planning to clarify how many students are currently allowed on campus. Its application is currently in the assessment stage.
The school declined to comment on why it has breached its student cap, how it plans to alleviate residents' concerns or whether it had any intention of building parking spaces as recommended by Waverley Council and NSW Police.
Sad for the residents but let's not forget that this extremely rich school is planning a $63 million expansion! I can only imagine what nearby state secondary schools could do with that type of money. How much tax payer funds is part of that $63 million? And of course that is the planned expenditure, it is bound to increase substantially.
From the Sydney Morning Herald
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/education-st-catherines-school-in-war-with-council-residents-over-69m-expansion-20150923-gjsz0e.html