Sacred Heart College gains approval to hire facilities

A site map from Sacred Heart College's proposal to hire out several of its facilities.
A site map from Sacred Heart College's proposal to hire out several of its facilities.

SACRED Heart College has been given approval to hire out its facilities to community groups.

Last September the City of Joondalup refused an application from the Sorrento school to allow it to hire out its performing arts building and recently-constructed gym to non-college community groups.

This was in response to residents’ concerns and the school being in breach of conditions that did not allow the school to hire these facilities without prior approval, but it had been.

The school appealed the council’s refusal through the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) and two mediation sessions were held, with a revised proposal presented to the council on Tuesday that also requested approval to hire out its old gym, chapel and oval to external groups.

At last week’s council briefing, principal Peter Bothe said the school had accepted it had not done enough to listen to its neighbours and engaged consultants to help with community consultation and to refine its event management plan.

This included flyers and a survey.

Business manager Stephen Martin said key changes to its event management plan included applying it to all college facilities for both the internal and external hire, not allowing alcohol for external events, prohibiting parking in the southern carpark as well as the north and introducing a tier system for events.

Tier 1 is capped at 24 external hire events a year and includes dance concerts and theatre productions where 350 event participants or more are expected.

Tier 2 is capped at 12 events and includes small shows and exhibitions where 150 to 349 participants are expected.

Tier 3, or incidental events, is not capped and includes rehearsals and , training for sporting groups where less than 150 participants are expected.

Planning and community development director Dale Page said event participants included everyone involved including, participants, audience members and those helping with the event.

Resident Sharon Warnes said while it was a “big step forward”, many neighbours remained concerned, particularly with parking, finishing times of 10pm Mondays to Saturdays, and no cap on the amount of tier 3 events.

She requested the school publish all events on a website and have a dedicated contact person at all times.

Other residents raised concerns with noise, traffic and the safety of school children and lighting.

“We accept we live next to a college but not an entertainment complex,” one resident said.

“Any event has an impact on residents and we expect a break on weekends and holidays.”

Mr Martin said this was the “most prescriptive event management plan for any school in the City of Joondalup” and urged councillors to approve the plan and “avoid any further SAT, which will cost the City”.

Cr Kerry Hollywood asked how much the SAT process had cost the City so far and the likelihood of the City being able to defend its position if they again refused.

Ms Page said it had cost about $11,000 to $12,000 and though she could not comment on an outcome, the school had shown “some progress and a willingness to work with the community”, which SAT would take into account.

Cr Hollywood said she had to vote with “all residents in mind” and she did not want to see the matter back at SAT and costing more money.

However, Cr Tom McLean said while the cost of going to SAT was “substantial”, and he was “usually cautious” when it came to spending money, the council “should not be held to ransom”.

Though City officers recommended the application for approval, Cr Christine Hamilton-Prime moved an alternative motion with additional conditions to address concerns.

She said there was a “significant and complicated history” and while the school hiring consultants was “a good step in the right direction”, they had not included input from residents.

Changes in her motion included capping tier 3 events at 54 per year, changing 10pm finish times to 9.30pm, and the approval lapsing after 12 months.

Cr Sophie Dwyer questioned what would happen after the 12 months and Ms Page said the school would be required to re-apply and start the process again.

Mayor Albert Jacob said the SAT mediation has been “generally quite productive” and while the school was happy to review the plan every 12 months, he had “a lot of concern” with the approval lapsing.

The condition was approved 7-5.

Cr Mike Norman also successfully moved an amendment to discourage hirers using the beach carpark.

Other conditions included limiting the hire of the oval to 178 people, or 400 vehicles when used for parking, implementing a City-approved travel management plan for tier 1 and 2 events, providing an acoustic report for events in the old gym or chapel, and limiting the hours when equipment can be delivered or collected.

The application was approved 10-3, with Crs Hollywood, Christopher May and Russell Poliwka against.

Badminton WA board member Kim Rodgers welcomed the proposal, saying there was a high demand for courts to book.

He said their hire of the indoor courts would generate 30 to 50 cars and it was not a noisy sport and not known for “antisocial behaviour or post-match celebrations”.

Sorrento Football club secretary Kerry Slater also expressed support saying the school would be able to provide an oval for its junior and senior teams during summer when Percy Doyle Reserve was used by other clubs, as did Dance Etc’s Kate Buchan who highlighted the “huge benefits to health and wellbeing” for her students to be able to perform in a “prestigious” local venue like the RNDM Performing Arts Centre.