AN historic red-brick school building has been demolished at the Epsom Primary School against the wishes of some City of Greater Bendigo councillors.
Councillors had attempted to block demolition of the building when the Department of Education lodged planning paperwork in 2016, but planning minister Richard Wynne declined to apply an interim heritage overlay.
The school had earlier asked the council for their interest in jointly managing the 137-year-old building for community use but councillors declined.
Epsom school council president Scott Jefferis said the school had decided early on it would rather have teaching space in the newly built $5.7 million building on site, rather than count the old building with small rooms as funded education space.
The historic building accounted for two fit-for-purpose classrooms in the new building.
Epsom PS is already constrained for space and the old building was taking up play area for students.
“The demolition is just moving forward for the school,” Mr Jefferis said yesterday.
“We have kept an open dialogue with the council,” he said, adding that 1000 red bricks from the historic structure, and part of the sandstone foundation, would be saved for future use.
During school holidays, landscaping work also got under way at the back of the new schoolStudents who have been travelling to the Bendigo Botanic Gardens for lunch will use the new play space next term.
City of Greater Bendigo health and wellbeing director Vicky Mason said while it was sad to see a heritage building demolished, the council was understanding of the school’s needs.
The site is constrained, Ms Mason conceded.
But the council’s White Hills and East Bendigo Heritage Study had identified the building as having local heritage significance which would qualify it for a permanent heritage overlay.
The council is still awaiting approval from Mr Wynne on the study.
Regardless, the Victorian School Building Authority which has jurisdiction over the building, has the power to override planning controls.
Ms Mason said the council would store the saved bricks and sandstone until it was decided how to create a legacy of the building.