For some 18 months the Department of Education and Communities (DEC) and the Royal Far West (RFW) have been negotiating over a piece of land which the Departments owns, right in the centre of the RFW proposed redevelopment site.
Locals believe this provides an excellent opportunity for a land swap providing much needed extra space for the exploding Manly Village Public School which has expanded to over 600 enrolments this year (on a site which is ideal for 500 students).
However negotiations with the Royal Far West have stalled with the groups failing to come to an agreement on the value of the DEC’s land.
Mr Dean White, Director of Public Schools NSW, has worked closely with the community to try to find a solution to the immediate lack of space crisis facing the primary school with estimated enrolments of up to 700 students expected in 2015, meaning an additional five classrooms will be needed.
While admitting that the land swap with RFW is unlikely to be resolved in the near future, Mr White’s Department has looked at a number of options including changing the boundaries of the catchment area for students; the use of the nearby Community Centre; and placing demountables on the playground or staff car park.
The best immediate solution would seem to be the change in the catchment boundaries, which would protect the future of the Community Centre and the amenity of students at the school. The P&C also shares this view. The Minister is expected to make an announcement over the next two weeks which direction will be taken.
In the meantime the RFW has announced that it proposes to proceed with its $45m Centre of Excellence on the site of the Elsie Hill flats (next door to the Community Centre) while continuing its operations in existing buildings until the new Centre is complete.
Mr White confirmed that the DEC is looking at leasing space in the new Centre and combining staff with the RFW, which would be a world first.
With regards to the future of the land in the centre of the RFW site he said the Department was “in no hurry”. “Our objective remains to find the best solution for both the RFW school and the Manly Village School”, he said.
Mr White added there was no interest in the proposal by the RFW that DEC support an additional storey being approved for the new Centre with the bottom floor being leased for 5-10 years to the Public School next door. This has also been rejected by the P & C and by Manly Council which recently lodged a new local environment plan (LEP) for the site reducing the height limited to below that which was approved on 18 April 2013 by the Planning Assessment Panel (PAC) under the rules of the previous State Government.
The Royal Far West has four years to start on the redevelopment of its site before the current DA expires.
The Department of Education (DET) has released a proposal to reduce the catchment area for Manly Village Public School for the 2015 new enrollments.
A growing population has seen the number of children at Manly Village Public School increase dramatically in recent years. In 2010 there were 542 students, and this year the number peaked at 696. This is from around 220 less than 10 years ago.
The current Year 6 has 72 students and the Kindergarten approximately 130. If another 130 Kindergarten students are enrolled next year, that will be some 50 new students, meaning two new classrooms would be needed. That would result in a demountable being placed in the already congested playground.
The Parents & Citizens (P&C) group expressed concern that this would seriously compromise the quality of education. Lunch and recess breaks are already staggered, as there are too many students for the small amount of outdoor space currently available. The growing population is seen as unsustainable.
By law, all children in the catchment must be accepted into the school, and they must have classrooms. Population density in Manly is increasing so a smaller catchment was seen as the best immediate solution to stop the numbers reaching the projected 887 students in 2018.
The P&C Executive met with Local Member and Premier, Mike Baird and Department of Education representatives recently. The response has been to release the proposed change to the boundaries - a plan that has been worked on for some time.
A consultation process is underway and feedback is being sought. The P&C Executive has declared their support for the proposal to change the catchment area, with many new enrollments in the local being moved into in the Manly Vale catchment area. You can view the proposed new catchment in the information document below.
Capital allocations in the recent NSW budget will allow for new buildings to be constructed at nearby Manly Vale Public School, with the view to accommodate the additional children from the surrounding areas.
You can lodge your view to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com at the Department of Education by July 25. Short responses are acceptable provided you say which option you support and why.
Hundreds of people crammed into the Manly Bowling Club yesterday to hear forty speakers against the proposed Royal Far West Development opposite Manly Beach, before the NSW Planning Assessment Commission.
Major concerns were raised about the total lack of consultation, lack of required reports such as a social impact study and relevant traffic studies, major overshadowing of the beach, promenade and school grounds; and the future of the Manly Village Public School and Community Centre nearby.
It is expected a determination will be made by the Commission (PAC) by the end of March.
This Report on ABC Statewide program on 15/2/13 covers the issue well:
As more information becomes available on the proposed redevelopment of the Royal Far West site opposite Manly Beach at South Steyne, the local community is becoming alarmed by the bulk and size of the proposed $229m development on this iconic site. A new group called Save Manly Village, has been formed to fight what has become the largest development proposal in Manly for 20 years.
The plans include:
• 9 storey hotel building towering over Manly’s iconic beach
• 8 storey building overshadowing the Manly Village Public School and dominating Rialto Square in Wentworth St.
• Complex of shops, restaurants, apartments and a 165 room hotel
* A new facility for the Royal Far West (which represents less than 30% of the total floor area of the site)
While locals stress they are not against the Royal Far West, nor the wonderful work they do, there is a sense of betrayal. The excessive commercial development plans, which were lodged without any consultation with the community nor Manly Council, are completely out of context for this site which is bounded by South Steyne, Wentworth Street and Victoria Ave.
While there is general agreement that the buildings owned by the Royal Far West are in need of replacement, (except for historic Drummond House which is to be retained), questions are being asked as to why the NSW government has agreed to two parcels of Department of Education land within the site, to be incorporated into the development with no apparent negotiation made to provide additional space for the Manly Village School next door. The school, which is busting at the seams, has grown from 200 pupils to more than 600 students in recent times and this is expected to continue to grow.
The development has been lodged as a Part A Application with the Department of Planning and a decision is expected to be made by the Planning Assessment Commission in February 2013.
In the meantime, locals are being encouraged to lodge their concerns by:
· Writing to Brad Hazzard, Minister for Planning - firstname.lastname@example.org
· Writing to our Local Member, Mike Baird - email@example.com
· Writing to the Manly Daily – firstname.lastname@example.org
· Letting others know how Manly is under threat
· 'Liking' the Save Manly Village Facebook page - www.facebook.com/savemanlyvillage
A public meeting will be called by the Planning Assessment Commission. Date to be advised but expected to be in February 2013.
The controversial redevelopment plan for the Royal Far West site is still on the agenda with a decision from the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) now delayed until February 2013 due to concerns that a late December public meeting (which is part of the process) would not enable all concerned parties to be present.
In the meantime concerns are still being raised by locals including the P & C of the Village School and members of the Manly Community Centre, due to the lack of information which is publicly available on the proposal. For example, what impact, if any, will the high-rise components of the development have on the shadowing of the children's playground in the Village School? What arrangements have been made regarding the parcel of land within the redevelpment site which is owned by the Department of Education? Who is behind the redevelopment proposal as, as a charity, the Royal Far West would be unable to mount such a proposal on their own? And why wasn't there any community consultation on the proposal before it was lodged?
Manly Council has submitted a draft concept plan for the site which calls for a more modest approach to the redevelpment with terraced levels fronting the beach rather than the proposal high rise block.
As a $220m redevelopment on an important, major site in Manly (bounded by Wentworth Avenue, South Steyne & Victoria Avenue) the community has a right to be kept informed. So why so much secrecy?
What's happening with the Far West Children's site? Checking the Department of Planning’s website today, there is still the notice “Proponent Reviewing Submissions”. It is now seven months since the close of submissions. Why is it taking so long?
** PUBLIC MEETING TO BE HELD ON MONDAY 28 November 12 at the Manly Community Centre, Wentworth Street. 6pm - 7.30pm. Come along and express your views.
BREAKING NEWS: 16/11/11
At the Council meeting on 14th November, Councillor Hugh Burns raised the interesting matter that the Far West Plan is proposing to convert existing Department of Education facilities for commercial purposes even though the Manly Village Public School nearby is crying out for more playground area and classrooms. It has been reported that the Village School currently has an extensive waiting list and is squeezed for space for existing students.
Should the Department be part of a scheme to profit from this valuable parcel of land or should the redevelopment proposal be reviewed with the view to adding extended public school facilities which could also be accessed by clients of the Far West?
UPDATE: In response to community concerns, the Department of Planning has extended the deadline for submissions until November 30, 2011
UPDATE: 27/10/11... It is a concern that the community has only just become aware of the importance, impact and various issues, the new development proposal will have on Manly.
Given this, it would be reasonable for The Department of Planning to extend its current November 4 deadline for submissions, particularly as it's not until November 2 that the Far West is having an open day for the community on these proposals.
Stated to be the largest construction project ever seen in Manly, the redevelopment of the Royal Far West site on South Steyne and Wentworth Street, if done right, offers some exciting opportunities for the revitalisation of this important part of Manly's beachfront.
The revised concept includes four buildings of up to nine stories incorporating 22,000 sqm of health, residential and commercial development. The proposal also includes a hotel complex of up to 164 rooms and a further 32 residential units.
(After concerns were raised about more intensive development of the site the Council recently completed a masterplan for the property which allowed for construction of up to six storeys on the beachfront and eight storeys in the middle of the block)
The proposal is the only project remaining on the northern beaches that will be considered under the State Government’s controversial Part 3A planning laws. The Planning Assessment Commission is expected to make the final determination on the plans which are on public exhibition until 4th November both at the Planning Department's information centre, or Manly Council Chambers. Documents can also be viewed under major projects a the Department's Website.
The incorporation of a hotel on the site would seem a good idea and would provide much needed additional quality accommodation in the area for international tourists.
What are you thoughts on the Plan?
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor, Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations & community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.