Council digs in over Calder Rise site

Niddrie MP Ben Carroll at the Green Gully Road property. Picture: Marco De Luca

Brimbank council will this week knock back a third offer from the state government for it to purchase the former Calder Rise Primary School site in Keilor.

Niddrie MP Ben Carroll has stalled the public sale of the two-hectare site on Green Gully Road so it can be offered to Brimbank council’s first democratically elected council in seven years.

State government-appointed council administrators voted against buying the site in 2014.

On Thursday, Mr Carroll, the Department of Education’s Victorian School Building Authority’s chief executive and Brimbank council’s mayor and chief executive will meet to discuss the sale of the vacant property.

But mayor John Hedditch said on Friday: “No purchase of these sites is being considered by council. It [the council] suggests the Victorian government keep the sites in public hands for the longer term while highest and best use is discussed and agreed.”

The property is one of five former Brimbank school sites the education department has deemed “surplus” to its requirements.

The Baillieu-Napthine government began preparing to sell the school site before it was ousted in the 2014 state election. The school closed in 2009.

Despite being flagged for sale for years, the land is still in the process of being rezoned from public use to general residential.

Since their election last year, Brimbank councillors have been vocal about their opposition to the sale of the site. In February they voted unanimously to try to stop the Andrews government selling the school sites, saying the decision was “short-sighted”.

Cr Hedditch said the land was not “surplus” and the growing area would need more schools in the future.

Mr Carroll said Brimbank council had twice been invited to buy the land – in February, 2014, and in September, 2015.

He told Star Weekly last week “the time for talk was over”.

“They’re going to be offered it a third time,” he said. “Are they prepared to invest the proceeds they’ve made from selling assets … into Calder Rise?”

An education department spokesperson confirmed the meeting would take place “to discuss education matters”.