This story was headlined 'outrage at private school arrogance' in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning. I have posted about this project before last year and I'm surprised at their success. What I find outrageous is not so much the fact that this school, and its undoubtedly well connected supporters have got their way, even over the objections of the police, but it's the staggering amounts of money these schools are using to build their little exclusive empires and the amount of money being provided by tax payers to do it.
As someone who has just finished 8 years on Ballarat High School's School Council, I know how cash strapped our state secondary schools are and the flaming hoops that BHS have had to jump through for the money and approval to build a very modest updated science wing and open plan classroom using the shell of a building that probably should be demolished. NOT a water polo pool, or an infinity pool or a grand auditorium Etc. But simply some modern classrooms!
This story I find particularly disturbing. At least they capped student increases for the moment, but they'll probably just ignore that....again!
Local residents are outraged that a Sydney private school has been granted approval to build a $63 million complex despite concerns from NSW police, the local council and more than 200 submissions condemning the development.
St Catherine's girls' school in Waverley has won approval to build a 500-seat "world-class auditorium", aquatic centre, research facility and multi-purpose hall but has been denied the right to expand its student numbers by 25 per cent by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.
St Catherine's girls' school in Waverley has won approval to build a 500-seat "world-class auditorium", aquatic centre, ...
St Catherine's girls' school in Waverley has won approval to build a 500-seat "world-class auditorium", aquatic centre, research facility and multi-purpose hall. Photo: St Catherines
The development includes 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.
The school, which charges students more than $27,000 per year, is one of four schools across Sydney, including Wenona, Redlands and St Ignatius' College, that are spending more than $200 million on facilities combined over the next year in a bid to attract lucrative student dollars. Each receives between $5 million and $10 million a year in federal and state government funding.
Residents said the school had been "arrogant" in its consultations with the community and had failed to consult widely with the community on the environmental impact of the build.
"We are extremely disappointed [in] the Planning Assessment Commission," said residents spokeswoman Cathy Davitt. "We had expected that our concerns would be adequately addressed by the PAC and the state government given that when the Liberals came to power they promised to return planning powers to the local community. They continue to fail to do so".
The approval has been granted despite a submission from Waverley Council last year that the development "substantially breaches height and development standards" of the local environment plan.
Both the council and NSW police stated that the development should be contingent on St Catherine's building a 200-space car park to alleviate congestion.
A submission to the Planning Department from NSW police argued that residents would 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.
On Thursday, despite warnings from police, the school was granted approval to construct the education multiplex without a car park. The commission's ruling did stifle the plans of the oldest Anglican girls' school in Australia to increase its numbers by up to 200 students.
Data from the MySchool website reveals that the 160-year-old 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 and received more than $5 million in state and federal government funding in 2014.
"Growth in [the] school's student and staff populations continued unchecked and exceeded agreed consent levels in recent years," said the commission's summary fact sheet. "As a result, the commission has prohibited any further increase in student numbers until such time as the school can demonstrate transport, traffic and parking arrangements are being managed consistent with this consent's requirements