Development boom could lead to schools crisis says Central Coast P&C Council

Posted by | April 8, 2018 | Community, Industry News, News

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The Central Coast could be heading for an education crisis as the region’s schools are pushed to beyond capacity by rampant residential development.

Literally thousands of major new residential units are either under construction or approved across the region. Hundreds more are proposed and pending decisions either from Central Coast Council or the Joint Regional Planning Panel.

In Gosford alone, the number of new units — and potential extra students – could be substantial. The Waterside development will contain 500 units when completed. John Singleton’s Bonython Tower will add 56 units. The recently proposed five tower residential complex at North Gosford will contain 400 more if approved. Other unit blocks are underway around Gosford Railway Station and in Hill Street.

All these fall within the catchment of Henry Kendall High School and Gosford Public School and are just one example of the coming major demographic shifts likely to impact on local schools.Central Coast P and C president Sharryn Brownlee warned that existing Central Coast schools would struggle to cope with a major influx of students unless there was a massive investment in permanent new classrooms, buildings and teaching resources, and even in new schools.

Mrs Brownlee said there was a real danger of schools becoming clogged with demountable buildings and outdoor spaces disappearing under “pop up” school buildings as the education department tried to deal with the problem.

She said school bus transport currently could not cope with transporting overflow numbers to nearby schools, adding to major traffic congestion problems.

“Henry Kendall High School as it is now could not accommodate extra children around Gosford without significant investment in new classrooms, buildings and teaching resources — you cannot have a demountable city just plonked down on the site,” Mrs Brownlee said.

“It can’t happen, its not educationally sound. It would destroy the learning environment — that’s the truth of it,” she said.

“Even relocating extra students to other high schools or bussing them temporarily is fraught with problems — Narara Valley High School is a long way from where the developments are and Lisarow High needs a huge upgrade just to cope with the existing students.”

Mrs Browlee said Gosford Public School was already at capacity and limited by the site.

“There was no forward planning around the relocation of that school — no extra land provision or thinking ahead,” Mrs Brownlee said.

LACK OF PLANNING
Mrs Brownlee said planning for development in greenfields sites in the north of the Central Coast had been better with a new primary school planned for that area, and a community consultation process in place.

“The question is — will that one school be enough and what are the department’s plans around high schools for that area?”

“We are concerned there have been no new school builds up here for years and capital investment is really behind where the population is,” she said.

“Wamberal is 20 years overdue for an upgrade, Point Clare is ten years overdue. Gosford Public School was rebuilt but with no future provision.

“The Department of Education demographers fought kicking and screaming to not build Kariong Mountains High School — which now has nearly 800 students enrolled.

“It’s a substantial, functional, quality high school — can you imagine if those 800 students were also added to Henry Kendall and those kids were commuting down there by bus?”

Mrs Brownlee said there should be an education impact statement with every new residential development.

“There is nothing more important than the mandatory 13 years of schooling but the impact of new developments on education is not properly considered in the DA process,” Mrs Browlee said.

“We don’t know what the education plans for the Central Coast are because there is a complete lack of transparency and no cohesive plan.”

Source: https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/central-coast/development-boom-could-lead-to-schools-crisis-says-central-coast-pc-council/news-story/c71403fee2c8d82360dfb7b645649b03

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