Growing pains at St Lucy’s

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David Raphael
St Lucy’s School principal David Raphael. PHOTO: Alphonsus Fok

St Lucy’s School in Wahroonga will fight to provide students with a quality education after its local council rejected a key development application, says principal David Raphael.

The primary school for children with intellectual disabilities is set to grow to meet increasing demand from across Sydney. It welcomed its first Year 7 students this year and will eventually teach 240 students from Kindergarten to Year 12.

Two neighbouring houses were demolished and work is underway as part of plans to expand the school grounds, provide 16 new classrooms and an underground carpark. But a second development application to Ku-ring-gai council to change the use of another neighbouring property, 10 Billyard Ave, from residential to school use was knocked back in April after months of extensive consultation with neighbours, council and the school community.

Mr Raphael said the decision was “unprecedented, unfair and unjust”.

St Lucy's artists drawing
An artist’s impression of the completed St Lucy’s campus. PHOTO: Supplied

The school has filed an appeal to the council for a review of the decision, and a separate appeal in the Land and Environment Court.

“We have done everything in our power to be constructive and collaborative with neighbours and council in this matter only to have the door slammed in our faces by this adverse decision of the council’s local planning panel,” Mr Raphael said.

“Even the council officers themselves told us they were surprised by the rejection given the officers had recommended it to be approved by the local panel.”

With new classrooms yet to be built, some students are being temporarily accommodated in two classrooms at neighbouring Prouille Catholic primary school but conditions are still cramped, Mr Raphael said.

Parent Kerrie Dietz said it was life-changing to have the option of high schooling for her Year 5 son Campbell, who has been at St Lucy’s since Kindergarten.

“It’s a tried and tested school and it’s amazing,” she said. “This latest hurdle is frustrating to say the least, not only for the school and Dave who have worked tirelessly jumping hurdles to get to this point.

“For goodness’ sake can they just have a heart. Why make things difficult when these families’ lives are difficult enough? Education’s a right these children should have.”

Mr Raphael said the school will continue to fight for the rights of its children and families with disabilities.