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November 14, 2016
SCHOOLS already “bursting at the seams” could become even more crowded as a result of the high density development plans for areas around Sydney Metro rail stations in the inner west.
A NSW Government push to allow more apartment blocks in the Sydenham, Marrickville and Dulwich Hill town centres means struggling schools will have to squeeze in another 1,500 children.
But critics of the Government’s Urban Renewal Corridor Strategy, linked to the Sydney Metro Southwest rail line, say there are no plans for expanding existing facilities, or building new schools, to cope with the population surge.
Even the Education Department has expressed concerns that children living along the rail corridor will find it difficult to find a place in their neighbourhood school until at least 2031.
It also suggested that private schools will not be able to cope with the “speed of growth” in the area.
As part of the Sydney Metro Southwest project, which will replace the existing rail line between Sydenham and Bankstown with a high frequency single-deck service, planners want new homes — including eight-storwey apartment blocks — shops and community facilities in an 800 metre radius around the 11 stations along the route.
The redevelopment includes medium and high density homes, with flats above commercial premises, near the Dulwich Hill, Marrickville and Sydenham stops.
In a submission to the Corridor Strategy, the Education Department’s director of planning and demography, John Neish, said the increased population will “place significant pressures” on the department to meet the new demand.
Mr Neish said the department may not be able to meet its “legislative obligations” under the Education Act, especially if there is no increase in budget allocations or no contributions from developers to “state infrastructure”.
The Act’s principles state that “it is the duty of the State to ensure that every child receives an education of the highest quality”.
In September, the Inner West Courier reported that more than a dozen local schools are among the most overcrowded in the state.
A “social infrastructure analysis” undertaken by consultants Arup and commissioned by the Planning Department, contains a report of an interview by Arup with the Education Department which shows Education bureaucrats had not been consulted by their colleagues in Planning.
“They (Education) are keen to be involved and know more — would appreciate a chat with (Planning),” the memo said.
It also states: “There is no capacity at schools in the corridor” and “can advice there is no capacity in this corridor until 2031”.
The Parents & Citizens’ committee at Ferncourt Public School, Marrickville, said it is already full and its after school hours care program is at capacity.
Ferncourt is the only government public school in the proposed Marrickville development precinct, which is expected tor receive an 9,200 residents, including 570 primary school students.
In its submission to the Strategy, P & C president Joanne Kershaw suggested the school’s catchment boundaries may need to be reduced “to allow the school to continue with current numbers”.
NSW Labor MP for Summer Hill, Jo Haylen, said community infrastructure, particularly schools along the corridor is e already feeling the pressure of a number of rezoning strategies occurring across the inner west.
Ms Haylen said the strategy is ‘developer driven’ rather than ‘community driven’
“Schools are bursting at the seams.
“The current plans reach too far into our suburbs.
“The inner west is really bearing the brunt of so much of this density and there is a real issue about fairness here.
“Why is the Government releasing mass rezoning plans before the infrastructure is built?
“There are no plans for essential community resources and infrastructure like new child care centres, new hospitals, open space, places for kids to play.
“And no new schools.”
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