Alphington High School gate removed in fight for public access to creek

The town of Yarra removed a gate in Alphington Grammar, following through on its ultimatum that the school must let people walk or walk through its main entrance to public land near Darebin Creek.

The non-governmental school resisted the council’s request for several months, citing concerns about student safety and even expressing fears that paedophiles, drunks and drug addicts could enter the prep school if the gate was removed .

Alphington Grammar School Principal Dr Vivianne Nikou stands with pupils Miles, Isabella, Zoe, Ethan and Nikoletta at the school gates.Credit:Chris Hopkins

The school community gathered on Tuesday morning, hours before the board’s 5 p.m. deadline, in a last-ditch effort to convince the board to back down. But the town of Yarra complied with his request by removing the pedestrian gate on Tuesday evening, in a move the school principal called “insanity”.

The school is in a pocket of residential Alphington that fronts onto the Darebin Creek trail, although there is no trail access through the school grounds.

The school’s front door also crosses Old Heidelberg Road, a short dead end street which is also a public road, but which the school fenced off from general traffic many years ago. A separate gate across the pathway was built more recently, cutting off pedestrian access through the school.

A Yarra Town spokesperson confirmed the council removed the pedestrian gate after the school ignored its final order to do so by 5pm on Tuesday. He said he would seek to recover the costs of removing the gate from the school.

Yarra Mayor Sophie Wade said the school had erected the gates illegally and was blocking the community’s access to public land.

“Yarra Town Council has been working with Alphington Grammar School for several months to resolve this issue and has sent several letters to the school, the last in April, advising them of the council’s decision and the legal process outlined in the local government,” says Wade.

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