A BLOCK of land is causing tension between Homebush West Public School and the Education Department.
The department has refused to buy land from a church adjoining the school, deeming it "unsuitable" due to its heritage significance and refurbishment costs.
But the school on Exeter Rd is expecting student numbers to almost double in the near future and is set for a $20 million redevelopment to cater for the expansion.
A three-storey building will be built to accommodate increasing enrolment numbers from 484 to 900 students.
To make way for 26 new classrooms, new staff facilities, a covered outdoor learning area, sports court and increased play space, 15 demountables will be removed.
The school, P&C and Strathfield Council managed to have a part closure of Exeter Rd, which the department said was a requirement to secure two blocks of land, including 11 Hornsey Rd.
"The department has determined the land adjacent to the school is unsuitable," a department spokesman said. "There are heritage buildings on the church site that limit what can be developed. The age of the buildings also makes them costly to refurbish." The school had a win in June when the department did a backflip and bought 13 Hornsey Rd from St Anne's Anglican Church.
The department also decided to knock back other plans to build a highrise school to cope with the growing student numbers.
"The department has used the road as a major stumbling block to the expansion of the school site, telling parents it would never be closed," P&C vice-president Suzanne Ellis, who has led a parent-run campaign for the land purchase, said.
"The community feels vindicated that this was always an excuse and the council was willing to work in the interests of the community to secure the road closure.
"The community is feeling some satisfaction that one parcel of land has been purchased and the road closed but we still need the department to take the final step and purchase the other land.
"With only pockets of overused play space available, the expansion of the site offers the backyard and active space most kids in this area don't have access to." On October 20, Education Minister Adrian Piccoli stated in a letter that the department was not in a position to purchase the extra land due to a range of risk factors.
"The heritage building's location on the site limit what can be developed and make it difficult for the department to justify significant expenditure," Mr Piccoli stated.
The construction of the redevelopment is expected to commence early next year.