Planning Commission decides fate of Santa Sophia College

2020 Santa Sophia Approvd
Artist impressions of the Santa Sophia Catholic School which will be built in Box Hill, NSW.

Groundbreaking plans for a $123 million high-rise catholic school — earmarked for the heart of a new mini-metropolis in northwest Sydney — has been determined by the Independent Planning Commission.

The revolutionary vision for the 1860-student kinder to Year 12 school by the Parramatta Catholic Education Diocese was approved by the Planning Commission on Tuesday for the landmark site at the Box Hill Town Centre.

The development features a six-storey high-rise school, made up of a series of learning spaces, creative and performing hubs and outdoor sporting facilities on the rooftop.

A commission representative said the proposal resulted in positive outcomes as the school would be built in an “emerging town centre” which featured effective transport and infrastructure.

The spokesman said the school would provide “an activated and vibrant hub for the community and meeting demand for educational facilities in the growth area”.

But the multimillion-dollar masterplan for the site did not come without a series of concerns raised by neighbouring residents, with a total of 69 objections highlighting issues around site suitability, built form, urban design, traffic, transport and safety at the school.

“After careful consideration of all the evidence, the Commission has today determined to approve the SSD application, subject to conditions – concluding the provision of additional school infrastructure in a growth area “is in the broader public interest”,” the commission spokesman said.

2020 Santa Sophia Approvd
Artist impressions of the approved Santa Sophia Catholic School, which will be built in Box Hill, NSW.

A series of conditions were imposed on the approved development to offset environmental impacts.

Santa Sophia Catholic College was earmarked to open at The Gables in Box Hill in Term 1, 2021.

Santa Sophia principal Mark De Vries said he was delighted by the outcome.

“This decision provides clarity and certainty for all local families in the Box Hill area and greater northwest Sydney that they will have an option for the suburb’s first secondary school,” he said.

“The plans have always been to open the school in semester two of next year — which means construction will commence from next month.”

Mr De Vries said the learning agenda will be a highlight for the school.

“We are going to give students a range contemporary, skills-based pathway options in state-of-the-art facilities — we want to prepare students for the future,” he said.

2020 Santa Sophia Approvd
Santa Sophia principal Mark De Vries. (AAP IMAGE/ Tim Pascoe)

“I want to thank the community for their support and patience for what has been a long process.”

The multimillion-dollar development application for Santa Sophia College, spanning across a 15,000 sqm site, was submitted by the Parramatta Catholic Education Diocese for the Box Hill Town Centre to The Hills Shire Council on December 21 2018.

Planning documents for the school revealed a proposal for 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. Students will also have access to surrounding parks and sporting fields.


Also see the report from the Sydney Morning Herald