Bayside council joins residents in fight against Haileybury expansion

Haileybury has suffered a blow in its bid to expand its Brighton campus with Bayside Council joining the fight against the proposal.

The private school has already aggrieved 120 neighbouring residents with its plan to demolish heritage homes and build a three-storey arts and sports centre.

Hampton resident Felicity Frederico stands outside the entrance to Haileybury’s Brighton campus at pick-up time.Credit:Justin McManus

Now the council has called on the Andrews government to reject Haileybury’s expansion, arguing it would cause traffic chaos, do unacceptable damage to the area’s heritage values and damage local amenity.

Planning laws introduced by the state government in 2019 stripped councils and residents of legal avenues to object to development proposals by non-government schools. When it introduced those laws, the government said they would stop important school projects being held up in court.

Applications are now assessed by the planning minister, in line with the process for government schools.

Haileybury’s proposal, details of which were published in December, involves the demolition or modification of several interwar bungalows in Hampton and East Brighton and the construction of a multipurpose school hall.

An artist’s render of Haileybury’s proposed creative arts and sports centre.

The school also wants to scrap an imposed limit on enrolments of year 10-12 students, arguing the cap has no justification and forces students in the Bayside municipality to travel to complete their schooling.

In a written submission, the council has urged the planning department to reject Haileybury’s proposal, arguing that it would “significantly intensify education activity” in the mostly residential area, “unacceptably affect the heritage significance” of surrounding homes and increase traffic and parking pressures.

Gary Crocker, a member of the Hampton Neighbourhood Association, said Haileybury’s proposed “massive cultural and sport centre” would be one of the tallest structures in Bayside and would intrude into the heritage precinct.

“The building would abut what are now homes and would soar 19 metres, plus plant and equipment perched on the roof. It would look like a [Star Wars-esque] Death Star looming over homes in a heritage overlay,” Crocker said.

Haileybury’s Brighton campus sits within the Castlefield estate, a mostly residential area with a heritage overlay. Homes in the estate were built for returned World War I soldiers in the early 1920s, and the streets are named after important towns and battlefields of the war.

The campaign against it has been endorsed by prominent planning expert Michael Buxton, Emeritus Professor Environment and Planning at RMIT University, who said residents had every reason to be worried by Haileybury’s proposal.

“Heritage precincts – like Melbourne’s much-loved green wedges – must be protected from death by a thousand cuts,” Buxton said.

“The loss of any heritage property and the encroachment on a heritage overlay has a cumulative effect. As the song goes, you don’t know what you’ve lost till it’s gone.”

Felicity Frederico, also a Hampton resident, said the intensification of school traffic around the campus was a safety hazard.

“The streets just aren’t designed for it,” she said.

Haileybury declined to comment, but a spokesperson confirmed the school was still working through the planning process with the Department of Transport and Planning.

But in previous correspondence, principal Derek Scott urged Bayside City Council not to oppose the proposal.

Haileybury already owns and occupies several houses in the Castlefield estate.Credit:Joe Armao

In a letter dated November 22, Scott wrote that council had twice previously written positively about the heritage aspects of the development.

“Haileybury has consulted with Bayside City Council for the past three years and has responded to all issues raised by council planners, traffic engineers and heritage consultants,” Scott wrote.

Planning consultancy Urbis also responded on behalf of the school, noting that council’s opposition contradicted previous advice by its officers.

“The objection is contrary to the initial planning assessment undertaken by council’s planners, heritage advice and traffic advice,” Urbis associate director Fiona Feeney said in written response to council’s objection.

Feeney said the removal of the student cap “is not likely to see an immediate intensification in the education use on the site”.

“It is entirely reasonable for a school to grow in enrolments over time in response to local demand.”

More than 1150 students currently enrolled at Haileybury Brighton live in the City of Bayside.

The school has more than 4300 students across four campuses in Melbourne, an online school and campuses in Darwin and northern China.

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