The futuristic look for Sydneys schools

Santa Sophia Catholic College Box Hill is the new school earmarked to bring thousands of students to a bustling new community in Sydney’s north west — and you can have your say on it from today.

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Thousands of students could soon be learning in a new multi-storey school located in the heart of a new retail, residential and commercial precinct in Sydney’s north west.

The new kinder to year 12 school — Santa Sophia Catholic College — would include enough space to cater for close to 2000 primary and secondary students, as well as a 60 student Catholic Early Learning Centre in the growing Hills residential precinct of Box Hill.

Plans for the iconic school, which will neighbour a soon-to-be constructed shopping and commercial precinct, have been revealed as part of the public exhibition of the multi-million development application.

School principal Mark De Vries said the Catholic Education Parramatta Diocese was “creating exciting learning and play spaces that will foster creativity and collaboration and prepare our students for life”.

Artist impressions of the Santa Sophia Catholic School which will be built in Box Hill.

The multimillion-dollar development application for Santa Sophia College was submitted by the Parramatta Catholic Education Diocese for the Box Hill Town Centre to The Hills Shire Council on December 21 — and is currently on exhibition through the NSW Planning Major Projects division.

According to planning documents, the proposal earmarks the construction of a six-storey educational facility across more than 15,000 sqm featuring a knowledge centre and cafe, art and applied science hub, multipurpose hall, music, dance, and drama hub and a science and fitness research hub.

Year 7 student Jessica Bollard with her Principal Mark De Vries. Santa Sophia Catholic College is being built in Box Hill but is starting with one classroom for year 7 students at the St John Paul II Catholic College campus at Schofields. Picture: AAP Image/David Swift

Despite being surrounded by retail, commercial and residential precincts, a spokeswoman for the diocese said the school will occupy its own “separate premises”.

“The location will enable students to build close connections with their community,” she said.

“Students of Santa Sophia will have access to many of the brand-new community facilities including world class sports facilities owned and operated by the Hills Shire Council (and) the community will have access to school facilities outside of school hours.”

Artist impressions of the Santa Sophia Catholic School.

In response to concerns about a lack of community consultation surrounding the relocation of the school from Terry Rd to Fontana Drive in Box Hill, Catholic Education executive director, Greg Whitby, said the college was on track to open as scheduled in 2021 at The Gables.

“Santa Sophia Catholic College will be a safe, vibrant learning environment with a strong focus on building connections between young people and where they live, learn and play,” he said.

Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta executive director Greg Whitby

“The decision to locate Santa Sophia at The Gables was made for several key reasons — it means the College can open in 2021, it will be possible to build the whole school in one stage as opposed to building in multiple stages, something we have never been able to do before (and) the college has a unique opportunity to use community facilitates as well as share its facilities with the community.”

Mr Whitby said the Terry Road site would “not have the same level of community infrastructure in place”.

“It will not be possible to open a school on that site until 2023 at the earliest,” he said.

He also revealed the Catholic Education office would not sell the Terry Rd site: “a future school will be required, and the expectation is for it to be built on this site.”

The school has worked to establish a planning and design committee, made up of parent representatives, to provide input on the designs for the futuristic school.

Santa Sophia kindergarten students Jordan Amoako-Agyeman, Sabastian Fernandez, Saachi Doctor, kindergarten teacher Miss Stephanie Musaraue, Olivia Bell and Luke Bollard. Santa Sophia Catholic College's will welcome its founding class of Kindergarten students to its temporary location. Picture: AAP IMAGE/ Angelo Velardo

NSW Planning’s priority projects executive director, David Gainsford, said The Hills was growing rapidly.

“We welcome opportunities to consider new school developments that include all age schooling and before and after school care,” he said.

“It is important we plan for growth and consider community feedback for these types of development.

“All the feedback will help us assess the development application and the proposed amendments to the planning controls, so we can work towards the best outcome for the community.”

The NSW Planning Department is calling for community feedback on draft plans for the new school, which is on public exhibition from now until June 26.

To make a submission, visit the NSW Government Planning Portal