Lourdes Family & Children's Hub

Maternal child health Nurse and childCouncil is planning to build a Family & Children's Hub on the Lourdes site in St Heliers Street, Abbotsford.

The hub is expected to include a children's service with up to 92 places for the provision of education and care, a maternal child health service, and a community meeting space.

The hub is a priority project for Council due to an enduring local demand for more long day care child places.  At its meeting on 5 June 2012, Council endorsed the design concept for the hub. Please follow the link for images of the endorsed design concept. 

Since the endorsement of the design concept, Council has been liaising with Heritage Victoria about permit applications, as the proposed site is in a heritage overlay area.

Demolition of former building

Council will demolish the building located at 2-4 St Heliers Street from 30 August 2014.

The demolition is expected to take 14 days, weather permitting.

The single-storey, concrete block building has been vacant for 14 years. It was originally constructed in the 1960s and operated as the Our Lady of Lourdes Home Economics and Commercial School.  Demolition is required because the building cannot be safely restored or reused.

Hazardous materials – including asbestos – will be removed on 30 and 31 August.

Council is committed to ensuring hazardous materials are removed safely and in accordance with health, safety and environmental regulations.

The removal will be supervised by an industrial hygienist, with no further demolition works occurring on site before the hygienist verifies that all hazardous materials have been removed and issues a certificate of clearance.

Heritage Victoria has granted a permit for the demolition. Any future development of the site would complement existing buildings and acknowledge the history and former use of the site as a school.

Planning permit

Council must prepare detailed designs and apply for a planning permit from its Statutory Planning Unit  to in order to construct the new hub.  

Council will write to the local community making everyone aware of the permit application and the opportunities to provide feedback. Local community members will have at least 28 days to provide their comments on the planning permit application. After Council has received feedback, it will then decide whether or not to issue a permit.

Based on the proposed design concept, it would cost an estimated $8.205 million to build the hub to a 6 star energy rating.

Design consultation

Suters architects developed the endorsed design concept with input from a Design Reference Group involving Ward Councillors, local residents and representatives of local community organisations. Here is more information about the Design Reference Group.

Once a draft concept had been developed, Council then sought feedback on it from the wider local community. Seven written submissions were received during April/May 2012. Many of the submitters raised concerns about traffic and parking issues in the area. To find out more about the submissions, please read the report provided in the agenda (Pages 11-15) for the 22 May 2012 Council meeting.

When Council endorsed the design concept in June 2012, it noted "the significant number of submissions from community and institutional stakeholders on the broader traffic and parking matters" and agreed to "prioritise the exploration of a medium to long term and sustainable traffic management solution for the precinct". More information about the work to produce a long term traffic management solution for the area is available on the Abbotsford Convent Precinct Traffic Study webpage.


Endorsed design concept


 The endorsed concept provides for:

  • A single-storey facility with six child care rooms, all of which would open onto a rear north-facing outdoor play area. The maternal child health area and community room would be located towards the front of the building.

  • The building to be set back by a minimum of 2.5 metres from the St Heliers Street boundary. This would continue to give priority to the nearby Heritage-listed buildings.

  • A breaking up of the building’s massing to respect the size and positioning of the convent buildings directly opposite. The maximum height of the Hub would be 6.7 metres. This would respect the Chapel building opposite which is 13.7 metres high. The remaining component of the Hub would be between 4.8 and 4.2 metres, compared with the St Euphrasia building which has a height of 12 metres. Existing views from the Johnston Street Bridge of the Convent’s spires would be maintained.

  • The creation of a new driveway in St Heliers street to the west of the Hub building, providing two lane access to a 16-space car park. A drop off zone would also be provided.

  • The use of many different building materials transitioning from solid masonry (responding to the Convent buildings) to timber (responding to the outbuildings of the Collingwood Children’s Farm). The St Heliers street frontage would deliberately display a transitional material form from robust masonry through to glass through to timber. A green wall would be created on the building’s eastern boundary.












PDF versions of the above images and a ground floor plan are provided in these attachments:

pdf format Lourdes design concept - image one.pdf (886.63 KB)
pdf format Lourdes design concept - image two.pdf (790.39 KB)
pdf format Lourdes design concept - image three.pdf (964.92 KB)
pdf format Lourdes ground floor plan.pdf (283.38 KB)

Design Reference Group


In August 2011, Council established a Design Reference Group (DRG) to provide advice to Council on the schematic design of the hub.

The DRG met four times in late 2011/early 2012 to consider the following key issues: 


  • How the proposed design responds to current and anticipated needs of children and their families.
  • How the proposed design responds to urban design, heritage and associated urban planning matters, including traffic and parking.


Members of the DRG provided feedback about some of these key features of the design concept, including suggesting that the maximum height of the building be reduced to below six metres and expressing concern about congestion in the car park. This feedback from the DRG was considered by Council as part of its overall consideration of community comments on the design concept.

All three Langridge ward councillors sit on the DRG, as well as the following representatives from the community.  

John Murphy

  • Member of CARA (Collingwood and Abbotsford Residents Association)
  • Parent and member of informal Local Young Father’s Group and local traffic group


Alison Knott  

  • Eight years experience in policy development for family and children services in the City of Melbourne
  • Member of City of Yarra Playgroup and Mother’s Group


Melissa Eastwood

  • Parent of young child living in Abbotsford
  • Worked in early childhood sector for over ten years


Virginia Dods

  • Member of CARA
  • Vice President of Abbotsford Primary School Council
  • Abbotsford resident and parent of young children


Alexandra Hill

  • National Trust of Australia (Victoria) Heritage Programs Advocate
  • Local resident


Anna Lindstad

  • Founding member of former Abbotsford Convent Coalition
  • 20 years experience in architectural practice


Marc Bernstein

  • Director of Melbourne Design Studios with interest in social, ecological and urban design aspects of architecture
  • Abbotsford resident and parent of young children


The organisational members of the Design Reference Group include:

  • Collingwood Children's Farm (represented by Alex Walker)
  • Abbotsford Convent Foundation (represented by Maggie Maguire or Andrew Evans)
  • University of Melbourne Early Learning Centre (represented by Janice Deans)
  • KU Children's Services (represented by Jacinta Barnes)





In 2010, Council made several decisions about the proposed hub including:

  • appointing KU Children’s Services – Australia’s largest not-for-profit child care provider – to operate the children's service
  • abandoning proposals to include affordable housing and supported group accommodation (i.e. a younger persons nursing home) on the site. This was in response to community concern about the intensity of development in the precinct, and traffic and parking issues.

The project was then put on hold while Council undertook a traffic and parking study in the area. You can find out more about this study and other efforts to improve parking and traffic in the precinct on this Abbotsford Convent Precinct Traffic Study webpage.

In July 2011, Council decided to re-commence planning for the Lourdes hub. At the same meeting, Council resolved that the Lourdes site remained its preferred site for the hub.



Further information
Craig Kenny
Director - Community Programs
9205 5100

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