Newcastle education: West End to become home to high-rise school in $90m development

EDUCATION will reach for the sky in Newcastle, as the covers come off a first of its kind high-rise school proposed for the resurgent West End.

The Newcastle Herald can reveal a development application for the $90 million, 12-storey school is imminent, with construction hoped to begin next year.

The men behind the ambitious plans, Newcastle developers Tom Elliot and Jamie Lind, of Core Project Group, said the school would cater for more than 1250 students, easing an expected surge of school-aged children in the city over the next two decades.

Core Project is already responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of development in NewcastleWest.

The school is proposed for a 4000 square-metre lot between Hunter and Little King streets – sitting neatly alongside the Holiday Inn, retirement village and childcare centre projects still being built.

Mr Elliot said planning department data showed 5000 additional school-aged children would live in Newcastle in the next 15 years. 

He said building new schools in the inner-city would be essential to prevent overcrowding.

“As the population increases in Newcastle, there needs to be an increase in services,” Mr Elliot said.

“We are very proud to be heavily involved in the redevelopment of Newcastle, and our focus has been primarily on service-based developments, which will continue to add back to Newcastle for generations to come.”

The school is designed by EJE Architecture and inspired by Newcastle University’s city campus.

The building would boast an indoor sports hall, lecture theatres, function centres, a basement car park and “kiss and ride” facility.

Each level is designed for different year “stages”, with kindergarten taught on the first floor and year 12 on the top level.

Mr Lind said the city should be viewed as a “natural extension” of the school.

GRAND PLANS: Newcastle developers Tom Elliot and Jamie Lind overlooking Little King Street. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

GRAND PLANS: Newcastle developers Tom Elliot and Jamie Lind overlooking Little King Street. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

There are nearby sporting and recreation facilities in Birdwood and National parks, while Civic Theatre would also be used by students.

The school is ideally located near the Newcastle Interchange.

Talks are still ongoing for the school’s operator but it is understood there are a number of interested parties.

Mr Elliot said the Department of Education, Department of Planning and Newcastle council were involved in planning.

However, the Department of Education denied it was involved in the project’s planning.

The Herald has previously reported the Hunter tops the state for the number of high schools at or exceeding capacity. In 2015, Newcastle East Primary School disallowed new enrolments from outside its catchment area for the first time.

A spokesman for the Department of Education said: “The department has been working with Newcastle City Council, the Department of Planning and Environment and Urban Growth to finalise a strategy for meeting government school enrolment needs in the Newcastle CBD area.

“There is currently adequate secondary school accommodation in the area, and planning is underway to accommodate the longer term demand for primary school accommodation.

“The department’s current enrolment projections indicate that Newcastle East Public School’s enrolments are expected to stabilise.”

The proposal – at a glance

  • $90 million, 12-storey development for Little King Street
  • School would cater for 1270 students from kindergarten to year 12
  • Wide 6 to 9m pedestrian link proposed between Hunter and King streets
  • Retail and exhibition space on ground level for students and general public 
  • If approved, construction is set to begin next year