Chatswood Education Precinct Project - Update September 2019
Chatswood Public School now has 1,350 students on a site with a permanent built student capacity of only 700. Approximately half our classrooms are now "demountable" (temporary) classrooms, including three that essentially fill the school carpark and three occupying prime playground space.
After years of negotiations, and significantly ramped up P&C and community lobbying across 2017, in September 2017 the Department of Education announced a major refurbishment project for Chatswood Public School.
Subsequently, Chatswood High School has been incorporated into a single Chatswood Education Precinct project, making it one of the largest school infrastructure projects undertaken in NSW. The project will substantially upgrade both schools, rearranging site locations while retaining the primary and high schools as separate schools.
Local input from both schools has been incorporated via a combination of
- School executive staff and senior P&C executive representatives from both schools are present with active voice at regular project planning meetings
- The project administration have conducted several Community Consultation cycles, with planning frameworks and concept designs made available to the whole school community, with feedback actively documented and considered by the project planners.
Overall, the Department of Education and in particular the project management team have been earnest in their desire to consider and accommodate themes from input from school community feedback and school executives into the design parameters of the schools. Community feedback is valuable. Your feedback is valuable.
The planned intention is that years K-12 will be re-housed on the existing two sites as follows:
Chatswood Public School: Essentially occupy the site of the west half of the current high school and the Intensive English Centre, ie furthest from Pacific Hwy, with two multi-storey classroom buildings near Centennial Ave.
Chatswood High School, Y7-9: Essentially the east half of the current high school site
Chatswood High School, Y10-12: Occupy the current primary school site on Pacific Hwy
Intensive English Centre: will be moved to St Ives at the end of 2019
The sites present a number of complex considerations, including
- heritage trees on High School site
- heritage buildings on both sites
- new large building project in a suburban housing zone
(overshadowing, local privacy, streetscape)
- vehicle access
- staging of building works
- housing of students during building works
Capacity: There are currently 1,350 Chatswood Public School kids, but the planned new capacity is still only 1,200.
The Department of Education reminds us that the maximum planned and built capacity for any NSW Public School (primary) is pegged by policy at a maximum 1,200 students. So far, public statements from the Dept of Education project leaders include the following intentions regarding dealing with our additional needs...
- Overflow may be housed (temporarily) in initially unoccupied general learning spaces in the High School. (However, we calculate this is likely to only accommodate 75 to 100 kids.)
- The Department of Education is in the process of seeking a site option for an additional school in the Chatswood area.
- Some Chatswood Public School families may choose to use Lindfield Learning Village or Mowbray Public School instead.
Under current plans, your P&C representatives anticipate there will remain a need for several demountable classrooms immediately on opening the new school.
Budget: The project site plan continues through multiple revisions, each involving substantial architectural design and project planning, representing significant delay and erosion of available budget for actual buildings and facilities. Good planning and accommodation of feedback is essential and welcome, however the finally delivered facilities should not be made to suffer in scope as a consequence of fixed budget and complex planning challenges.
- Your P&C representatives have met with Gladys Berejiklian MP to discuss this concern. No specific outcomes are yet established.
Music and Performing Arts: Both Chatswood Public School and Chatswood High School require school halls that enable music and performing arts presentations, and require appropriate tutorial spaces for music programs. Facilities have not yet been adequately catered in presented floor plans.
- Your representatives at the Project Reference Group have been, since the outset, communicating a firm message regarding the facilities needed for our important and successful music and creative arts programs. Reinforced with community feedback after the project's Community Consultation session in May 2019, the project architects have been making significant revisions in further consideration of these needs.
Traffic: The plan to move the primary school down Centennial Avenue moves our youngest students a few hundred metres further from most housing (high density dwellings in Chatswood on the eastern side of Pacific Highway), which is likely to add hundreds of additional vehicles trying to access Centennial Ave each morning and afternoon.
- Additional complexity is introduced due to Pacific Hwy being within RMS responsibility while other local traffic is a matter for Council.
- The Chatswood Education Precinct project team will consult with Council and with RMS regarding traffic management but have no capacity to directly plan traffic management.
- The lack of one-stop responsibility for this problem is a significant vulnerability for the project.
Your P&C representatives will engage further and directly with Council and with Gladys Berejiklian MP to discuss options regarding this concern.
The project is approaching submission to SSDP (State Significant Development) within weeks, in which the location and size of buildings and any other major fixtures is to be set.
To reduce further delay, the project has announced a first-round building of "Building R", in which
- the high school demountable (temporary) classrooms in the carpark near Oliver Rd will be moved off the carpark and closer to the sports oval
- a new multi-storey classroom building will be erected, commencing mid 2020
- the new building will eventually be part of the Y7-9 High School, but in the interim would temporarily (for about two years) house primary school students while the Y10-12 High School facilities are being built on the Pacific Hwy site and the new Chatswood Public School is then built on the existing IEC / High School site.
This building “R” falls within local planning limits and avoids the more challenging and lengthy process of a State Significant Development.