Portland North Primary School has been told that it must demolish an 1870s former School Master’s Residence if it wants more facilities. The Education Department requires the school to demolish the 1870s building, now used as a music room, in order to get funding for new facilities. Schools have a specified “entitlement” to buildings dependent on the population of the school cohort. Essentially, more children equals more facilities, but you are not allowed to exceed your entitlement, so if you build something new you may end up “over-entitlement” which is why North Portland Primary is a facing losing a heritage building.
School alumni were photographed on the steps of the former residence as part of the school’s 140th birthday celebration sin 2012. The building has undoubted historical and architectural significance, and we are aware that a review was recently undertaken by a heritage adviser acting for the Department confirming its significance. The Glenelg Shire has taken up the cause, as has Gail Tierney, MLC for Western Victoria, who raised the matter with Planning Minister Matthew Guy in parliament in November 2013. We have written to the Minister for Education to seek his input.
Over in Timboon the local Prep-12 School is also seeking additional facilities. There is however some confusion about the impact of a potential heritage overlay. Whilst the overlay requires most owners and government agencies to obtain relevant permits under the planning scheme, the Minister for Education (and by extension the Department) is exempt. Therefore the application of an overlay at Timboon or Portland North will make no practical difference to decisions on removal of buildings – other than to alert the Department that there are structures that have heritage significance., and to require the Department to undertake meaningful consultation” with the Shire.