If we build it they will come

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian
City of Greater Geraldton councillor Steve Douglas says Spalding needs its own primary school.
Camera IconCity of Greater Geraldton councillor Steve Douglas says Spalding needs its own primary school. Credit: Francesca Mann

City of Greater Geraldton Councillor Steve Douglas says the fastest way to transform Spalding is to build a primary school in the heart of the suburb.

His comments come after council unanimously adopted the draft Spalding Precinct Plan on Tuesday for public comment.

To make the suburb a place where people want to be, the plan — developed by the City and the Department of Communities — suggests transforming the Mitchell Street Community Centre into a central activity hub with the potential for future medical, retail or commercial space development.

But Cr Douglas, who has pushed for Spalding’s revitalisation for more than five years, said the vacant land behind the community centre should be used for a primary school.

“We need a primary school in Spalding, it’s the only suburb of that size without one,” he said.

“I think the most transformative change we can make to Spalding is to have a primary school, as was envisioned in the early planning of Spalding.

“About 80 per cent of students at Bluff Point Primary School actually come from Spalding and they have to cross the North West Coastal Highway to get there.

“A primary school would turn around Spalding and encourage a bit of pride in the community.”

The Department of Education confirmed a large number of students enrolled at Bluff Point Primary School are from Spalding, but did not specify an amount.

The vacant block on the corner of Broome and Anderson streets was previously owned by the Department of Education for the development of a primary school.

The 5.5ha site was sold in 2011-12 and is now owned by the Department of Communities.

According to the draft precinct plan, development of a primary school could be considered, with the possibility of relocating Bluff Point Primary School to the site.

Cr Douglas said closing Bluff Point Primary School — which has a capacity of up to 600 students — could be a way to fund construction of a school in Spalding.

“There’s nothing wrong with Bluff Point Primary School, it’s fantastic,” he said.

“But if you need the cash to fund a school in Spalding, one option is closing Bluff Point and selling the land.”

Department of Education executive director of Infrastructure John Fischer said land had been earmarked in Spalding in case a new school was needed.

“We expect Bluff Point Primary School will be able to cater very well for students from Spalding in the coming years,” he said.

“New schools are not typically built when existing schools can meet or exceed demand.”

Cr Douglas encouraged all community members to read the draft Spalding Precinct Plan and submit any feedback to the City.

The City of Greater Geraldton has set aside $452,950 from a trust to spend on the project and will request additional funding support from the State Government.

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