Inner Sydney public school plans scrapped due to cost of remediation at former industrial site
But residents and the Mayor of Sydney said the school was desperately needed in an area with the highest density in Australia.
For 18 months, the Government has been working on plans for the school, to be built on Wattle Street, suitable for 1,000 students and including a childcare centre.
The property was once an industrial site, so it requires remediation works.
The Government said it had discovered those remediation works would cost $50 million – double the initial estimate.
“Full remediation of the Wattle, Jones and Fig streets site, plus costs for site acquisition and construction of a new Ultimo Public School would cost more than $177 million, as compared with $15 million to $30 million to build a standard primary school,” the Education Department said a statement.
It went on to explain the Government’s new plan:
“To ensure future accommodation needs are met for the Ultimo/Pyrmont area, a complete new school will be built on the present primary school site.”
Area has highest density in Australia: Mayor
Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the decision was unbelievable.
“I can’t understand it unless it’s a political decision,” she said.
“I mean the work has been done to show that the site meets the standard of the state’s Contaminated Land Management Act so it meets the standard set by the State and yet the State is saying it won’t go ahead with the site – pretty unbelievable.”
Cr Moore said the City of Sydney was prepared to sell the site to the State Government at a discounted price because the area is desperate for a new school.
“Pyrmont/Ultimo is an area with the highest density in Australia,” Councillor Moore said.
“There’s been huge development there in the last couple of decades and a lot of stamp duty has gone to the Government and the Government really owes this community a much-needed school.”
Abandoned plan ‘out of the blue’
Elizabeth Elenius from Pyrmont Action Incorporated said it was devastating news.
“It really has come out of the blue; even as short a time ago as three weeks ago we were all invited to another planning consultation, and we were so excited about the whole new way of thinking about providing educational facilities,” she said.
“What was promised was a primary school for up to 1,000 students, a childcare centre for 80 children, they were talking about an after school care facility as well as shared community facilities like a sports centre and a hall – they were looking at all sorts of innovative ideas.”
Ms Elenius said the demand for a school would only increase as the area grows.
“The original plan recognised the population growth associated with the Bays Precinct Development project and other developments – I mean they’re not planning ahead at all here,” she said.
The Ultimo Public School P&C group has called an extraordinary meeting for Wednesday night with president Janine Barrett saying the news has left her “reeling”.
“Our school will cease operation at the end of term 4 this year – the existing school is to be demolished and rebuilt as a high rise facility, possibly 10 stories, on the current site,” she said.
“The Department at this stage do not have a clear idea of where our children will be educated during the redevelopment phase, although did mention in passing Wentworth Park or a yet to be identified location in Petersham.”