A proposal to super-size Manly Vale Public School has been knocked back by Warringah Council and provoked widespread opposition from the local community.
The Education Department plans to build a “super school” on the bushland site, not far from Manly Dam.
The new school would cost $23 million and cater for 1000 pupils - a huge jump from the 460 currently enrolled.
To accommodate the increase, new classrooms, offices, a library, and a canteen and hall will be built on the site.
More than 300 trees will be removed, and parts of Manly War Memorial Park will have to be cleared for bushfire protection. The current school is known for its bushland environment which will be decimated if this plan goes ahead.
Locals say these areas are too precious to lose and fear the development will increase pressure on endangered species that have been found in the area, including the powerful owl, eastern bent-wing bat, grey headed flying fox, and eastern pygmy possum.
Ironically the school has been a leader in environment education since the 1970s when a large nature area was put aside to help pupils learn the value of the environment and nature conservation.
While local residents recognise the need for some development at the school, where some children are housed in demountable classrooms, they say that the proposed development is far more than is needed for the local area.
But the Education Department , which says there is no room to significantly enlarge other primary schools in the area, is struggling to accommodate an ever-increasing primary school population.
The Department also claims that fauna in the area will not be significantly affected as trees and shrubs will be left to provide wildlife corridors.
The plan. which has so far attracted 100 submission and an opposing 1500-signature petition, will go before the Joint Regional Planning Panel later this year.
Candy Bingham, Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.