The major intersection at Pittwater and Harbord in Dee Why will look very different in coming years as St Luke’s Grammar School expands to create a new senior school campus and a dedicated sports centre.
The Masterplan project, spread over two adjoining sites on two levels connected by elevators and stairs, will be undertaken in three stages, the final of which will not see completion until 2031.
The $20 million venture will include construction of a 220-seat performing arts theatre, a 25m indoor swimming pool, an indoor sports centre with one half-size and two full-size basketball courts, a cafeteria and atrium, a library, a 300-seat assembly theatre, an administration centre for staff, numerous car parking bays, plus precincts for Humanities, Visual Arts, Design and Technology, Science and Maths with multiple classrooms.
The major redevelopment will encompass two adjacent sites:
800 Pittwater Rd, behind and to the north-west of the school, an historic industrial estate dominated by a converted former clothing factory, which is currently occupied by Officeworks, I-Med Radiology and Fitness First.
224 Headland Rd to the west of St Luke’s (at 210 Headland Rd), currently occupied by several light industrial units. (Because of a weird kink along a wonky border, the address strangely sits apart from its neighbours in the suburb of North Curl Curl).
According to the St Luke’s October 2019 Community Newsletter detailing the Masterplan, “The total student population at the 210 Headland Road Campus will be 1000 as per an approved Development Application (DA). This existing site will eventually only cater for students in Pre-Kindergarten to Year 9, with the new Senior School Campus at 800 Pittwater Road catering for 600 students in years 10, 11 and 12.”
St Luke’s School Principal, Geoff Lancaster, confirmed the dual development is going ahead. The DA was formally approved on April 19 by the new NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Paul Scully, three weeks after Labor won the NSW State Election.
“The SSDA [Site-Specific Design Assessment] that has been approved includes 800 Pittwater Rd and 224 Headland Road,” Mr Lancaster told Manly Observer.
“This project will provide a new Senior School Campus for students from Years 10 to 12 at the site currently occupied by Officeworks, Fitness First and iMed. We have strong demand for enrolments but our current site is quite landlocked, making growth difficult….
“The new facility will provide a different experience for students and allow us to grow to 200 students per year group from years 7-12 from 2027. We will have more space available for families who want to send their children to St Luke’s.
“At present we are fortunate to have strong demand for enrolments and many local families are disappointed they miss out on a position at the school.”
St Luke’s webpage reveals that the Dee Why grammar school “was founded in February 1993, following the amalgamation of three Sydney Anglican Schools Corporation schools on Sydney’s Northern Beaches,” which were Roseby Preparatory Junior, Peninsula Grammar Boys and St Luke’s Anglican School for Girls.
Mr Lancaster explained the pressing need to expand St Luke’s existing premises, rather than partner with another school in a different district to share educational facilities.
“Many Northern Beaches schools are at capacity and spaces are needed to provide educational options for parents, without having to travel off the Northern Beaches.
“We have two Junior Schools (St Luke’s Dee Why and St Luke’s Bayview) with a combined enrolment of approximately 95 students in Year 6 that move into Year 7 at our Dee Why Campus. Allowing for larger Year Groups at Year 7 will allow more local families the opportunity to enrol at St Luke’s for High School.”
According to Northern Beaches Council’s History Hub webpage, the Officeworks/Fitness First site was “built in 1949 as Top Dog Menswear Production Centre, this building won the Sulman Medal for architecture in 1950. From 1959 to 1972 it became the Bonds Factory. This was followed by Wormald and more recently by Officeworks which moved into the building following quite major renovations.”
Parts of the estate are Heritage-listed: the facade of the building currently occupied by Officeworks and a tower. How will they be incorporated to complement the new campus? Will the premises behind the facades be knocked down and replaced?
“We have worked hard in our planning to maintain the Art Deco heritage features of the current building and make it a building that honours the past yet also points to an exciting future,” Mr Lancaster reassured us. “Much of the building is dated and requires significant work to accommodate a school. Some of the structural work will remain and other areas will need to be replaced.”
What is the construction work time scale of this major scheme?
“The SSDA has taken close to 3 years for approval and the work is planned in stages,” he revealed. “The first stage involves the refurbishment of the industrial units at 224 Headland Road as our Basketball and Sports Centre. This work will commence soon – later this year.
“We anticipate the second stage of building will begin in mid 2025 and be ready for occupation in 2027. The third stage will commence in 2029 when all current leases have finished, and under our current planning schedule, it will all be complete (including landscaping) by 2031.”
And facilities such as the indoor swimming pool and basketball courts, will interested parties be able to hire these?
“We anticipate there will be some shared spaces,” Mr Lancaster said, “and where allowed under the DA conditions we will make facilities available to the public – for example performance spaces and the proposed swimming pool.
“We also hope to partner with some local businesses and reimagine what the final years of schooling can look like – creating a space that is somewhere between a school and university experience.”
St Luke’s has undertaken substantial multi-million-dollar improvements in recent years. The current expansion program follows on from a 2012-2017 Strategic Plan that the school, under previous principal Jann Robinson, utilised to engage architects and builders to design and construct new buildings and facilities within the existing Dee Why and Bayview school grounds.
According to a digital document titled “St Luke’s Strategic Plan”, (released late 2017 and available to download here): “2017 marked the end of the previous Strategic Plan, which resulted in: The completion of a Dee Why facilities masterplan that has led to: – the purchase of new property for current and future school expansion, including the Officeworks/Fitness First building in Dee Why – building the Corbett Centre with an art centre, classrooms, a large meeting space, basketball courts and carparking for all staff – a complete refurbishment of the entire Senior School.”
The Strategic Plan then listed the major construction works undertaken:
“The completion of a Dee Why facilities masterplan that has led to:
– the purchase of new property for current and future school expansion, including the Officeworks/Fitness First building in Dee Why
– building the Corbett Centre with an art centre, classrooms, a large meeting space, basketball courts and carparking for all staff
– a complete refurbishment of the entire Senior School.
- The inclusion of a second Junior School at Bayview, offering a campus at the northern end of the Peninsula.
- The opening of projects finished in 2017:
– a transformed John Scott Hall (Dee Why)
– a new music centre (Dee Why)
– remodelled libraries into LearningHubs (Dee Why and Bayview)
– a new basketball training centre (Dee Why 224 Headland)
– playground renovations (Bayview)
– transformed administration area (Bayview)…”
Some of these works, including a hall, resource centre, canteen and junior centre (all on the Dee Why 210 Headland Rd campus), were designed by Mayoh Architects, which promised to “create meaningful landscaped play areas and develop a new style of architecture for the site that would capture the essence of the school and its headland location.”
Furthermore, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer (TZG) Architects “created a contemporary space to reflect the school’s learning priorities and methods,” which the school, in the Strategic Plan, stated were “founded on Biblical principles, which are expressed through a school culture based on the life and example of Jesus.”
This resulted in a three-storey science and technology centre in the main school grounds, which Rohrig Construction was then engaged to build. The construction was completed in 2020 for “under $5 million”.
Prior to this, in 2004, St Luke’s School Building Committee commissioned TZG architects and Arterra design and construction on “implementing a fresh design for the hub of the school; the main quadrangle and other outdoor assembly areas” costing approximately $400,000.
In 2022 St Lukes was ranked 33rd in the state for its Higher School Certificate results.
St Luke’s Grammar School
St Luke’s Strategic Plan 2018-2022 (PDF file – click on ‘Strategic Plan’ to download)