Sorrento: Sacred Heart College application to hire facilities refused

A Bahama Close resident trying to drive into their cul de sac during a peak school traffic time.
A Bahama Close resident trying to drive into their cul de sac during a peak school traffic time.

SACRED Heart College has been criticised by nearby residents while being denied permission to hire out its newer gym and performing arts centre for commercial purposes.

The Sorrento school had applied to the City of Joondalup for the additional land use of ‘place of assembly’ to allow it to hire its facilities to external groups outside of school hours, including weekends.

In 2008, the council approved the development of the auditorium and in 2015, the Metro North-West Joint Development Assessment Panel approved a new gym.

Both were approved on the condition they would not be used for non-school purposes without prior approval from the City.

However, the City was recently advised the school had not been adhering to this condition and so the school was advised to apply for the land use.

Neighbouring residents spoke at this month’s council briefing and meeting to oppose the application.

Jarvas Croome said neighbouring residents were “deeply concerned” at the school’s “complete disregard” for their amenity, including helicopter landings, people entering their private property after functions and causing damage and equipment being packed up late at night.

He said there was an insufficient buffer zone between the school and homes, with only 50m separating a house from the gym.

“We are not NIMBYs (not in my backyard),” another resident said.

“We want a successful school and community but we don’t want to live next to an entertainment centre.

“We want to enjoy our evenings and weekends in relative peace.”

School principal Peter Bothe said they had worked with the City for about 12 months to create a workable event management plan.

He said the school wanted to be a “good corporate citizen” and provide facilities for local groups that wouldn’t otherwise be available.

Board chairwoman Anne Zaninovich added that the intent was to hire the facilities for dance schools, choirs, musicals, guest speakers, art displays and sporting clubs – not for private functions like 18th and 21st birthday parties, with a maximum of 25 events a year.

There would also be a website to notify of events and a dedicated mobile contact during functions.

Mr Bothe said the school would also have the right to appeal a refusal at the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT).

City officers had recommended the application be accepted with a range of conditions.

However, Cr Christine Hamilton-Prime said she was concerned about “opening the flood gates”.

“The concerns the residents have are genuine and substantial… and they rightly so are passionate about protecting the little amenity they have left,” she said.

Cr Hamilton-Prime said it was “deeply upsetting” the school had been “flouting” the “common-sense” conditions that were put in place when the gym and performing arts centre were approved.

While many other councillors spoke in support of the refusal, Cr Kerry Hollywood raised concerns about the school appealing the decision at SAT, which would be a costly exercise and could see the City lose control of being able to impose conditions if approved.

She said there was a shortage of facilities in the City and no other performing arts centres in the area, so it was ideal to share.

The application was refused 10-2.