AT LEAST one of bankrupt Mowbray College's former campuses could be reopened as a school as Melton Council is urged to rezone land to prevent it being sold off for housing.
Western Institute of Technology chief executive Intaj Khan will seek to buy the buildings of the college's Caroline Springs senior campus, which closed its doors to students last month.
The future of Mowbray's two sites in Caroline Springs and one in Melton has been uncertain since the independent school collapsed under $18million debt and was placed into liquidation last week.
Mr Khan said it was crucial that the Caroline Springs campus remained a school amid fears it could be sold for housing development.
A receiver or agent is expected to be appointed soon by National Australia Bank to take control of the sale of real estate, buildings, contents and other assets at the three campuses. Administrator JP Downey said the firm had received expressions of interest from more than 23 parties.
Mr Khan said a new school was needed to plug the gap left by Mowbray and ensure the western suburbs could cater for massive population growth. "People won't stop moving to the west, so whether it's us or another education provider that buys it, it's very important the site continues trading as a school," he said.
"Builders will be looking to capitalise and make money out of the site with housing and, of course, the bank will be looking for top dollar selling it, but it really needs to consider the interests of the community."
Mr Khan hopes to launch a new school, Western Senior Secondary College for years 7-12 students and some TAFE classes.
"We can at least maintain the existing school so we can keep catering for families in the area."
Mr Khan will urge Melton Council to rezone the Caroline Springs senior campus as a special-use zone for education, as it did last month for Melton's Patterson campus, sending a message to developers that the land isn't up for grabs.
The site's current zoning allows for residential, educational or commercial use.
Although Planning Minister Matthew Guy has the final say on zoning amendments, council planning manager Luke Shannon said Melton would get behind submissions for Mowbray's campuses to be kept for educational use. "We think it should remain as a local high school, but we don't have the absolute capacity to say it has to be," he said.
Melton's Cr Sophie Ramsey said she wanted another independent school to take over Mowbray's purpose-built infrastructure in Caroline Springs.
"If run well, a new school could have another 30 years of a wonderful existence in our municipality - like Mowbray did."
Cr Ramsey successfully moved a motion at council's most recent meeting to rezone the Patterson campus from residential 1 to special use for education, while residents have launched a
petition seeking an overlay to safeguard the buildings from the wrecking ball.