Historic estate in Sydney’s north to be transformed into educational precinct, including ECEC
A heritage listed home in Sydney’s north-west will be turned into a preschool and primary school, to be known as Blue Gum Community School, after plans submitted to an independent planning panel by Best Practice Education Group via Hornsby Shire Council were found to be “in the public interest”.
The property, currently known as Mount Errington house, will be redeveloped to cater for 80 pupils and nine staff, and the application to repurpose the property drew strong debate in the community, given its significance as a strong example of the arts and crafts Federation style of home. Best Practice bought the property for $2.9 million in 2019.
A local heritage conservation group had been critical of the plans for redevelopment, calling them “totally inappropriate” for the house, which was built in 1897. Best Practice bought the property for $2.9 million in 2019.
Although the redevelopment had support from the Planning Department, it referred the “state significant” development to the Independent Planning Commission in January because the application attracted more than 50 objections.
Core complaints were that the school was unnecessary, would worsen traffic congestion, add noise, and that the building and surrounding landscape would be unduly affected, particularly by the removal of 41 trees.
According to the National Trust Register, the home is an item of significance.
Under the $617,000 development proposal, the home’s largely intact interiors would be modified to incorporate three preschool rooms and five general learning areas, with the outside space being modified to include a 12-space car park and a kiss-and-drop bay.
Commissioners Peter Duncan and Adrian Pilton said in their decision that turning the estate into a preschool and school was an “orderly and economic use of the site” and any residual impacts from the project could be mitigated through imposed conditions.
“The commission finds that the project will provide a range of public benefits, including the provision of a new and alternative education option for the Hornsby [local government area], the conservation and adaptive reuse of a heritage-listed building and the provision of construction and operational jobs,” the decision reads.