This policy explains the Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA) land disposal process.
- The VSBA retains or disposes of land based on demographics data and provision planning for community service delivery requirements.
- Retention and sale of land occurs in line with the Victorian Government Landholding Policy and Guidelines (2017) and the Victorian Government Land Transactions Policy and Guidelines (2022) .
- This policy falls within the 'Disposal' stage of the School Asset Lifecycle.
In some instances, a school community may determine that it is in the best interests of its students to close a school and transfer students and teachers to an appropriate other school. Following a school closure, the Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA) will consult with schools, regions and the community to decide whether or not to retain the site for future use.
The VSBA will dispose of school sites that are not required for current or future use, as closed schools sites can pose a risk to the community. Selling a site can avoid unused buildings attracting vandalism and becoming dangerous.
As part of the disposal process, sites are offered for sale to other Victorian government agencies, the Commonwealth and local government to ensure community interests over the land can be accommodated if appropriate.
The Minister for Education approves the disposal of all educational sites, which may include vacant sites that have remained unoccupied since purchase.
When a school site is closed within the department, responsibility for the vacant site rests with Schools and Regional Services (SRS) until the site is declared surplus. The VSBA is responsible for the maintenance of land declared surplus.
The VSBA then undertakes a demographic analysis and demand forecast for school enrolments in the area. This data determines whether the site will be required in future to establish or re-establish a school.
Future use requirement
Retaining closed school or vacant land sites has significant implications for the VSBA, surrounding schools and local communities. Sites are retained where:
- the site is likely to be required for a school in the future
- the site could be used for an alternate education purpose
When the department identifies an alternate education use for a closed school site, it will notify the Minister for Education of its intention. For more information, contact one of the department’s regional .
Site declared surplus
When a site is not to be retained, the Minister for Education will declare the site surplus. This occurs with most closed school sites. The VSBA disposes of surplus sites in accordance with the appropriate government guidelines.
Freehold land and Crown land
The VSBA can dispose of freehold land sites without any further assessment.
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) assesses Crown land sites under Victorian Government Strategic Crown Land Assessment Policy and Guidelines .
DELWP will recommend if a Crown land site has any public land value (as defined by the guidelines) that should be protected prior to sale, or if the Victorian Government should retain the site.
Some school sites are zoned for public use (education) reserving them for use for government school purposes. These properties need to be rezoned to an appropriate adjoining zone (for example, general residential) before being offered for sale.
The VSBA can apply to the local council for an amendment to the planning scheme. The amendment is advertised, publicly exhibited and subject to appeals. The council then makes a recommendation. Their decision can be challenged as an appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. This process can take from 6 months to several years.
To help reduce this timeframe, the department may seek approval from the Minister for Planning to exhibit a planning scheme amendment based on the advice of DELWP’s Government Land Standing Advisory .
In line with the Victorian Government Land Transactions Policy, surplus sites must be sold at market price determined by the Valuer-General Victoria, unless exempt.
All land sales are made in accordance with the Valuer-General Victoria's valuation as specified by the Victorian Government Land Transactions requirements.
Once the land is rezoned, it will be offered to other government agencies, local councils and the Commonwealth. If the land is not retained for other government use, it will be considered for disposal on the private market.
If only part of a school is not required and is declared surplus, a subdivision of the site may be required for the disposal to occur.
Subject to funding priorities, the VSBA may demolish buildings at closed school sites to mitigate community concerns about safety and antisocial behaviour. The demolition may also reduce VSBA costs associated with security fencing, shuttering of windows, and security patrols.
For more information, refer to the department’s Demolition Policy.
Reviewed 22 February 2023