Fort Street Public School’s 61cm height increase has inner-city residents up in arms

Fort Street Public School’s 61cm height increase has inner-city residents up in arms

“I didn’t object in the first place. It takes up a fair bit of my air, but it’s a school,” Walker said. “I object to grabbing a little more because who knows, if they can pull this one off, [they’ll say], ‘Let’s add another classroom.’ It just seems that they are trying to exhaust citizens to object.”

A 67-page study by Ethos Urban concluded that the visual impact of the change was low to insignificant, and “was likely not visible or generally imperceptible from all viewpoints” surveyed.

Fort Street Public School in July 2021. Credit: Nick Moir

Melanie Tait – who has a son in Fort Street and two daughters enrolled for future years – said the situation was difficult for parents, and it was difficult for older residents in the nearby towers to understand the importance of ‘ to have a functioning primary school nearby.

“When there’s something that’s objected to, all these people come out of the woodwork and everyone who doesn’t have a problem with it doesn’t say anything,” she said.

“You’re talking about a lift crossing – it’s not even 60 centimeters across the whole building. We just want the school to be finished, and we want them to do a good job this time so they don’t have to renovate again in a few years.”

The redevelopment was controversial from the start. A previous amendment in 2021 drew 85 objections, mostly concerned about building heights and blocking views.

This is hot button issue in Millers Point. NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts last year scrapped plans for taller buildings at nearby Central Barangaroo after a community backlash.

Several objections to the Fort Street amendment also raised concerns about the project’s $68 million price tag. The primary school has less than 300 pupils, but once rebuilt it will have a capacity for 550.

The school referred questions to the Department for Education, which said the “minor” design changes would improve access between the school’s heritage and new buildings.

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“Relevant stakeholders, including representatives for local residents, were consulted before the amendment was submitted,” the statement said. “We are currently preparing responses to all submissions, as part of the normal process.”

On Sunday, the Herald reported on another proposed elevator causing controversy in the city; plans to install an elevator along the McElhone Steps in Potts Point. In that case, the president of Potts Point and Kings Cross Heritage Society, Andrew Woodhouse, said people who couldn’t climb the stairs could take the bus instead.

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