Much debate on school gym

SACRED Heart College’s application for a proposed gym was the centre of much debate at last Thursday’s development assessment panel meeting.

Martin Attwill, speaking on behalf of the neighbours, said the school’s revised proposal to move the gym 12m south was ‘not a material change’ and residents still had concerns about the building’s height and shape, increased traffic and noise and effect on the streetscape amenity.

He said the height of the building was in ‘direct conflict with the objective’ of the City of Joondalup’s policy that ensured height of development within the coastal area ‘protects and enhances the amenity and streetscape character of the coastal area’.

Bahama Close resident Sharon Warnes said while the residents supported the development of a gym, the ‘imposing industrial-style building’ was not in keeping with the surrounding area.

‘To date, residents have enjoyed living in this area due to the openness and visual permeability offered by the layout of the college buildings,’ she said.

‘The additional usage of the proposed building by external bodies and the increased usage of Bahama Close to access the premises will increase traffic and parking issues.’

Pala Management consultant Brad Schrader, commissioned by the neighbours to help provide alternatives to the proposal, suggested the school could replace the existing gym with the new building, or move the proposed building 88m south from the northern boundary, remove the 4m fill and use the hard courts as a buffer.

He said the neighbours had proposed to hold a community consultation meeting with the school to discuss the alternatives but the offer was declined.

Sacred Heart College business manager Stephen Martin said the school was trying to accommodate the student population.

‘The college has been approved as a seven-stream school, which means our intake at Year 7 will be in the vicinity of about 230 students per year, so that translates to a school population in the vicinity of about 1370 students,’ he said.

The existing gym has a licence to hold 792 people.

‘We believe we have come up with a substantial compromise by moving the proposed development an additional 12m to the south,’ he said.

‘That’s really as far as we can go in terms of not impinging on our athletics track, our AFL football oval and the like. To do so would adversely impact on the student health and wellbeing and physical activity.’

Joondalup councillor Mike Norman asked if the school being developed before the houses and the school’s growth were planning considerations.

Joondalup planning and community development director Dale Page said they were not and the City acknowledged the school’s need to grow, but there were other ways to do so on the site.

Cr John Chester moved to refuse.

‘This has always been a simple issue for me,’ he said. ‘I know it’s complicated, I know what the school needs, but if you look at it in terms of the State and City of Joondalup planning policies, in my opinion, it is non-compliant.’

Cr Norman agreed.

‘I understand there is considerable demand for the facility but I am required to focus on planning considerations,’ he said.

‘I believe this building would be more acceptable if built at a natural ground level (rather than on 4m of fill) as it would significantly reduce the bulk and scale as seen from nearby residential properties.’

Assessment panel alternate deputy presiding Ian Birch voted against the refusal.

‘It’s clear that it doesn’t comply with policy but policy is policy ” it’s not law, it provides guidance,’ he said.

‘These facilities are crucial.’

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