Council: Infrastructure planning for increased enrolments in Wanneroo schools critical

PLANNING for increased enrolments and preserving green space at Wanneroo, Girrawheen and Koondoola schools after higher density zonings is critical, according to City of Wanneroo councillors.

A call for talks with the Education Department about expanding schools vertically to handle population growth was made at last week’s City of Wanneroo briefing on changes to housing precincts.

An amendment to the district planning scheme will go before the council tonight.

It is proposed to increase the residential zoning in the Wanneroo, Girrawheen and Koondoola precincts from R20 to R20/R40 and R20/R60.

About 750 people took part in three July community information sessions and the City received 213 submissions, of which 194 were in support of the proposal, 12 opposed and seven unsure.

A council report said the Education Department had raised concerns about the capacity of local schools to accommodate the potential population increase.

The WA Planning Commission’s development control policy, which guides the location and catchment of schools, suggests there could be too few primary schools, particularly in Girrawheen and Koondoola.

The report said the department had limited land available for extra primary schools.

It said when rezoning was first proposed in 2010, the department said existing schools would be able to cater for the growth despite closing Hainsworth and Blackmore primary schools in 2008.

However, the population estimates were significantly lower than the City’s most recent development scenarios and population increase.

Each year there could be about 180 extra dwellings in the Girrawheen-Koondoola precinct and about 45 extra in Wanneroo until 2031.

The report suggested the City closely monitor the redevelopment and explore options with the department to ensure schools were able to cope.

Cr Hugh Nguyen, who is also chairman of the Koondoola Primary School board, suggested investigating the issue now before rezoning began.

Cr Brett Treby said other metropolitan schools had lost green space to transportable classrooms as enrolments increased.

“Bassendean Primary School (is) putting transportable buildings on ovals and putting car parks on ovals,” he said.

Cr Treby suggested working with the Education Department to encourage expanding schools vertically rather than horizontally.

Planning and sustainability director Philip St John said it was a policy position that “made absolute sense” and would be a “highly sensible” one for the council to take.