Only two weeks after planning approval, construction of the new Forest High School has begun.

Hot on the heels of the final planning decision to approve redevelopment of The Forest High School, a sod turning ceremony was held yesterday afternoon (Wednesday, 06 December) at the new site of the school at 189 Allambie Road, Allambie Heights.

Turning the first sod to mark the start of construction was Member for Wakehurst Michael Regan, who was joined by Parliamentary Secretary for Education Greg Warren, and The Forest High School Principal Nathan Lawler (main image, centre L-R).

Wakehurst MP Michael Regan

Member for Wakehurst Michael Regan (image above) said the start of construction was a milestone, and represented one of the items of ‘unfinished business’ that had driven him to stand for State Parliament.

“To be honest, I didn’t expect to be here turning the soil as the MP, I hoped to be doing it as the Mayor ten years ago when we started talking about it.

“I can remember talking about this back in 2014 when we thought it was going to happen, but it didn’t for other reasons. I look forward to being here in 18 months, weather permitting.

“I’m also excited for the town centre. I think this is the start of a lot of positive change around the [Northern Beaches] hospital, where the school is now. We’ll see another big uptick, more affordable housing and more jobs, which is great,” said Mr Regan.

Greg Warren

Greg Warren

Member for Campbelltown and Parliamentary Secretary for Education Greg Warren said the new secondary school would better cater to the educational needs of the area.

“Being here today is a great opportunity to start something that has been in the pipeline for a long time. It’s a $160m dollar investment, that will double the student capacity for a modern complex, giving our students the resources and the infrastructure that they need in this beautiful part of the world,” said Mr Warren.

The Forest High School Principal Nathan Lawler

The Forest High School Principal Nathan Lawler (image above) said the start of construction was not just the end of a period of uncertainty, but the start of an exciting new chapter for the school.

“It’s not until you stand on the site that you realise this is such a unique site, with a beautiful outlook. We’ve got a very excited school community, both current parents and prospective parents.

“They have had lots of questions around the new site in terms of when the building works will start. It’s great we can feed back to them that things are happening.

“We are excited about what’s to come for the new school. We’ve tried to keep the open feel to the school, which there has been lots of discussion and planning around.

“We are really looking forward to new state-of-the-art facilities, whether they be general learning spaces, science labs or woodwork rooms. It’s going to be nice to be in a brand new space,” said Principal Lawler.

Construction preparation at the new Forest High School site

Construction of the new school is set to begin immediately, and will be undertaken by ADCO Constructions and Johnstaff. Work to prepare and clear the site has already been completed (image above).

Dean Israel, Michael Regan, Greg Warren, Nathan Lawler, Patrick Wright

NSW Construction Manager Dean Israel from ADCO Constructions (image above, left) said they expected the new school to be complete mid-2025, weather permitting. Project Director Patrick Wright from Johnstaff (image above, right) agreed, but added, “We have at least 18 months ahead of us.”

Michael Regan, Kerrie Beeby, Nathan Lawler

With the school due to complete in the middle of a school year, Principal Lawler (image above, right) was asked by the Northern Beaches Advocate if they would shift to the new location in the middle of a school year.

“Yes, if the school is completely finished, that would be the plan, we wouldn’t let it sit there for six months,” said Principal Lawler.

He clarified that the transition would likely occur in a term break to minimise disruption, but the benefits and facilities of the new school would justify an immediate move to new and improved facilities.

“We’ve got a really strong performing arts unit, the new school has a theatre. There’s also a movement studio. At the moment, we run a lot of our dance in a smaller performance space. It would be nice to have a brand new performance space. We would also look to run fitness sessions and classes in those spaces as well,” added Principal Lawler.

Artist impression for the new Forest High School

Principal Lawler said that enrolment interest at The Forest High School had been steadily increasing, and he was expecting to see further growth with news of construction. He said there were no concerns about capacity however, with the new school allowing for 1,500 students, almost double the current number.

Founded in 1961, The Forest High School is a co-educational government secondary school located at 135 Frenchs Forest Road, Frenchs Forest. It will be relocated to 189 Allambie Road, Allambie Heights, which is a 4.5ha site at the corner of Aquatic Drive.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate, NSW Government (artist impression)

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