As the NSW state government prepares to unveil a $100m high-rise school in Parramatta's CBD, Parramatta MP Julie Owens has told The Educator the facility could house more than just a school.
In an exclusive interview, Owens said that despite having advocated the project for years, she never envisioned that the building’s floor space would be occupied entirely by a school.
Rather, Owens believes that there are opportunities for other training providers.
“At the very least there could be other training providers that could latch on to the flow of students through the space, such as day care providers, special needs facilities and those for homeless kids,” Owens suggested.
“There are a whole range of things you can do once you start thinking of this place as an education space, not just as a school.
“These are the questions that should be considered. We have an opportunity now to do something new and different, and to build into the planning of how families live now,” Owens said.
The current educational area, which Owens describes as “very crammed together”, has a lack of open space and forces students to cross busy Macquarie Street just to play in the sports area.
Owens said in order to get to the Robin Thomas Reserve, the students must first cross busy roads.
“The school’s students cross Macquarie Street, which is the main through-road for Parramatta,” Owens told The Educator.
“At any time of the day the kids cross this road just to play a bit of basketball.”
“There is an enormous amount of educational land that is all crammed together and all one or two levels, in the middle of the CDB and opposite the biggest transport hub in western Sydney,” Owens said.
Parramatta’s MP added that the proposed site’s proximity to the train station and recreational facilities make it ideal for an “interesting” learning space.
“Nearby there is also the current premises of the police youth club, which is also two storeys on a huge piece of land.
“So there are a lot of opportunities to bring all of these things together to create an interesting space which is about education and learning,” Owens said.