Improving student safety and sporting facilities are driving the first stage of a redevelopment and expansion of Ballarat Clarendon College.
Under the plans, the Murray Street pedestrian walkway through the school would be closed and a section of Murray St and Ajax Street incorporated in to the school site.
Four existing houses in Ajax St, which the college own, would be demolished or moved to allow development of a multi-purpose sporting field, existing cricket nets would be relocated, 31 extra carparks built off Wanliss Rd and the school fence extended around the site.
The sporting courts at the front of the school on Sturt Street would also be removed, replaced by new landscaping to help open up the front of the school and highlight the heritage buildings.
“The issue of a public thoroughfare through the middle of the school is something we need to deal with. It goes past the girls’ boarding house .. and we can’t ask people to move on if they’re on a public thoroughfare so it’s a security issue for the kids,” said principal David Shepherd.
“We’ve got 1020 kids on site and a public thoroughfare we have no control over. New child protection legislation means we’ve got a responsibility to make it safe for children.”
The pedestrian access was a concession when the street was first closed for college expansion in the 1980s, but with the school’s responsibility of care to its students and the changed times Mr Shepherd said the change was important for student security.
“The reality of 2019 is different to the reality of 1989. Times have changed and we need, as an institution, to work with council to respond as best we can,” he said.
Mr Shepherd said he understood community concern surrounding the school’s expansion, but pointed out the current application to rezone land and begin stage one of the master plan would “actually put a boundary fence around where we want to spread out and provide certainty for the future”.
The plans were first proposed in 2016 and have been altered following public feedback.
The school’s combined amendment and planning permit application to Ballarat Council has this week been advertised to surrounding neighbours and is open for public consultation and feedback until March 19.
The application proposes rezoning all land within the campus, including the residential areas they own, to a special use zone, removing the Murray St pedestrian easement, demolition of three buildings, demolition of tennis courts, partial demolition of an existing building, relocation of a dwelling, modification of two houses in to school buildings, development of a multi-purpose sports field, car park construction and an underground stormwater detention tank.
Mr Shepherd said if the permits were granted, construction was unlikely to begin until next year. The projected cost for the works is $2 million to $3 million.
The intial plans form stage one of a master plan for the college which will reinvigorate the school’s historic streetscape in addition to providing new and updated facilities for students.
Under further stages of the master plan, the school chapel will be moved and an existing carport and flat close to the Sturt St boundary will be demolished with landscaping to open up the school frontage and historic buildings, and new buildings planned.
Any future building would be set well back from the street, and the college’s main campus entry point including staff offices and administration would also be reconfigured.
“The idea is to make certain we really enhance and celebrate our heritage buildings,” Mr Shepherd said.
“The changed entrance to the college will better reflect Clarendon in the 21st century and the plan provides the opportunity to really enhance the heritage values of the Sturt St frontage.”
Six other houses that the college own in Ajax St are used for a health centre, staff accommodation and some are being refurbished, with plans that the girls boarding house may be relocated in to a new building at the back of these homes.
The school is holding a drop in information session in the Trench Room at Ballarat Town Hall on February 19 from 1pm to 3pm and 5pm to 7pm. The amendment and planning permit application are on public exhibition at council until March 19.
Have you signed up to The Courier's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.