Plans afoot at CCS?

AN announcement about the future direction of Catholic College Sale is believed to be imminent, with Wellington Shire Council issuing a planning permit for works in the Pearson and Macalister St precinct.

A notice of application for planning permit on  St Mary’s Hall in Macalister St, Sale, is for alterations and additions to a place of assembly and the demolition of a dwelling.

The Gippsland Times attempted to view the plans yesterday morning at council offices, but was told they have been taken down as the permit had “gone through”.

The Times also approached Catholic College’s principal and the director of the Catholic Education Office yesterday morning to seek clarification about the impending works, but both were unavailable for comment.

In July last year the school flagged possible big changes, saying it was looking at “all options” as it planned for its future.

The school would not be drawn into speculation about what those options might be, but it was believed one was to consolidate on a single site.

Catholic College currently operates from two sites, the Sion and St Patrick’s campuses, with the projected cost of future maintenance of the historic buildings running into millions of dollars.

Some years ago the school looked into buying a greenfield site and building a new school, but did not proceed, as it was decided the cost was too high.

In July last year principal Chris Randell said the school was looking at planning for the future, which would involve significant investment in the school and a direction from governors to ensure the best possible provision of facilities in the years ahead.

“All options need to be available,” he said.

“We’re looking at a number of options and gathering information at the moment.

“There will be an avenue for people to express their points of view.”

Speculation was sparked last year following a school meeting about the future direction of the school, where suggestions were sought and the possibility of creating a single campus was raised.

The discussion continued on social media, prompting strong local opposition to any suggestion of closing the Sion campus, or selling the historic Sion building.

However Mr Randell said in July last year that nothing had been decided, and all options were up for discussion.

“Passion about the school and its heritage is great,” Mr Randell told the Gippsland Times last year.

“But we need the best options for young people into the future.”

The Sion site is zoned residential, and has a high potential value for residential development.

It is understood Sion is owned by the Gippsland Catholic Diocese, and St Pat’s by a combination of church entities.

Both historic buildings are protected by Wellington Shire heritage overlays, with St Pat’s part of the St Mary’s heritage overlay precinct, as well as having the building listed separately.

Sion is also on the National Trust of Australia register and Register of the National Estate.