Plan to build 110 homes at old Port Kembla school site

More than 100 new terrace apartments and low-rise flats could be built on the vacant site of the old Port Kembla Public School. 

Next week, Wollongong councillors will consider a preliminary proposal to rezone the 2.2 hectare land, which housed the heritage-listed former school until it burnt down in 2013.

There has been speculation about housing development at the site – which has views to the ocean, escarpment and across the steelworks – especially since the adjacent Port Kembla stack was toppled in 2014.

Razed: The site has been vacant since the heritage-listed former Port Kembla Public School burnt down in 2013. Picture: Robert Peet.

Razed: The site has been vacant since the heritage-listed former Port Kembla Public School burnt down in 2013. Picture: Robert Peet.

A report to councillors revealed the site’s owner – not named by council staff – has lodged a request to rezone the site as “medium density residential”, submitting a concept plan for 110 homes.

The homes would be made up of small one and two storey homes along Marne Street and two-to-three storey townhouses and terraces with basement parking and ground level garages at the middle of the site.

Under the concept plan, there would also be three-storey apartment buildings at the northern end of the site, close to industrial lots. 

There would be laneways linking Military Road and Reservoir Street, and vehicle access points across the site.

A green zone along Electrolytic Street would provide a “buffer” from Port Kembla’s industrial zone.

Council staff noted this was only an “indicative” plan, as the rezoning would need to be supported by the council, NSW Government and go on public exhibition before it could be approved.

The council has recommended reports into noise from the industrial surrounds, traffic, and Aboriginal and European heritage be included as part of the proposal.

A title search reveals the site owner to be Ostoja Vujic, who bought the site in 2015 after the stack demolition.

In 2000, Port Kembla Copper, which operated the stack, bought the neighbouring site due to health concerns and the school relocated to Gloucester Boulevarde.

The site was rezoned from being residential to “general business” and the school building was heritage listed.

In 2010, the site was rezoned to be “mixed use”, to facilitate a proposal that involved residential developments and artists’ studios at the school. This plan stalled when the school burnt down.

The report noted contamination would be a “key issue” in deciding whether the site would be suitable for housing development, and said the council would be responsible for assessing the contamination issues.

Staff have recommended councillors proceed with a draft proposal for the site, noting it will add to Port Kembla’s housing mix and provide economic demand for nearby Wentworth Street.