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Designs released for Southbank School

10 Mar 2016

Designs released for Southbank School Image

Plans for the Fishermans Bend development have taken a major step forward with the release of designs for Victoria’s first-ever vertical school at Ferrars St, Southbank.

The State Government has been working closely with the City of Port Phillip and the Ferrars St Planning Committee to deliver a shared vision for the education and community precinct.

Education Minister James Merlino and Planning Minister Richard Wynne released the first images of the school and surrounding area last month, which will accommodate over 525 students.

The school, designed by Hayball Architects, will officially open its doors to students in 2018.

The new images include proposed treatments for the surrounding streetscapes, including tree planting, partial closure of some roads, drop off points for the school and upgrades to intersections.

Adjacent land was also purchased last year for $19 million to be developed as a park, while another $5 million has been allocated for local infrastructure, including improvements for two nearby tram stops.

The government also announced that the contract for remediation of the school site would be awarded soon and was expected to be complete by May.

Speaking at last month’s community forum on Fishermans Bend, Minister Wynne said while the project was crucial to addressing enrolment pressures in the area, it was only a drop in the ocean for what was needed.

“As Martin (Foley) will tell us, all of his schools are completely oversubscribed now and are extraordinarily popular so the Ferrars St school is a very good first start of it but the predictions are that we are going to need up to six schools within the precinct so it’s a very significant number,” he said.

“We’re going to have to intervene into a market place where, in fact, we don’t own any of those sites so it is an enormous challenge but we simply don’t have a choice about it we have to be up to this and we have to find ways of locating those school sites and acquiring land for them.”

These comments followed the release of the findings from a State Government review into local school shortage for inner-Melbourne.

Stage one of the review found that there would be a shortfall of around 4800 government primary school places and 2000 government secondary school places across the study area of Southbank and inner-Melbourne by 2031.

The State Government has confirmed the review will now move into stage two, which will focus on further community and stakeholder consultation and look at options to deliver schooling across Docklands and surrounding areas.

The study area focuses on inner Melbourne including Port Melbourne, Albert Park, South Melbourne, Carlton, North Melbourne, Kensington and Docklands.

Mr Merlino said: “As promised, we are reviewing the future education needs across inner Melbourne to tackle a dramatic reduction in school infrastructure investment under the former Liberal government.”

In the meantime, local parents have continued their campaign for a local school, with lobby group City Schools 4 City Kids gaining a following.

The group, recently formed by Docklands parents Denise Fung-Henderson and Michelle Styles, held a morning tea for around 70 people at Parliament House last month to raise awareness for the cause.

The group is advocating for public primary and secondary schools for children living in the inner city, including Southbank, Docklands and the CBD.

Speaking to the group, Ms Styles said every family living in the inner-city was affected by the current situation, describing her own experience of driving her seven-year-old son to school each day in peak hour, heavily congested roads and city gridlock.

“This crisis affects many inner-urban communities including Docklands, the CBD, Southbank, West Melbourne and South Melbourne which have no local state schools,” Ms Styles said.

Ms Styles also highlighted the impact on neighbouring communities of North Melbourne, Carlton, Kensington, Parkville, Port Melbourne and Albert Park, which are dealing with overcrowding in local state schools.

“I really hope as a united community we can do this. We can support the children of Docklands, Southbank and the CBD to have a school in their own community. Schools are the glue that help communities stick together.”

City Schools 4 City Kids has already attracted political attention with Greens Melbourne MLA Ellen Sandell putting her support behind the group.

Attendees at the morning tea also included Sex Party leader Fiona Patten, Prahran Greens MLA Sam Hibbins and City of Melbourne councillors Jackie Watts and Ken Ong.

Other speakers at the morning tea also included social and urban planning academic Professor Carolyn Whitzman and Albert Park Primary School principal and Docklands-based grandmother Elaine Mills.

Prof Whitzman said the authorities had so far ignored the reality of families living in high-rises.

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