PHOTOS

School group fights car park extension during 1980s expansion of Westfield Miranda

Parents and teachers fought a long but unsuccessful battle to stop a car park extension during the expansion of Westfield Miranda in the 1980s.

After several changes of plans, Westfield gained approval to build the three-level car park next to Miranda Public School, with a road bridge over Wandella Road.

A land swap resulted in the construction of a new council library and other community facilities.

Parents and teachers, who formed the Miranda Primary and Infants Defence Group, won concessions but said nothing short of rejection was good enough.

Westfield bought Miranda Fair in 1969, five years after it opened, and completed the first major expansion in 1971 when the centre was renamed Westfield Shoppingtown.

The 1971 expansion trebled floor space, giving the centre two major department stores and more than 70 other shops.

The first stage of the next expansion opened in Tuesday, April 17, 1984, and was heralded as "a new era", with the number of specialty shops increasing to 160 by the time the project was finished.

A "no frills" Franklins supermarket, Harvey Norman Discounts and BBC Hardware were among newcomers to "the fair", as it was still called in Leader stories.

There were more than 20 fashion shops and, during the opening week, fashion parades were compered by TV personality Barbara Rogers.

Employment in the centre increased to more than 1200 people, half of them at Grace Bros, where there were 400 full-time staff and 220 casuals.

Woolworths had 100 staff.

A special advertising edition of the Leader, distributed on the Saturday before the Tuesday opening, said the centre would take on "a mardi gras atmosphere" for three weeks.

"Competitions, entertainment, displays, shows and store give-aways have been lined up," a report said.

"Thousands of balloons - some containing $50 vouchers valid for that day - will be released at 9am to mark the opening on Tuesday."

Parents were told Humphrey B Bear would spend 90 minutes on the Centre Stage and other entertainment would be provided by teams of clowns and the Easter Bunny, giving away Darrel Lea eggs.

It was estimated there were about 100,000 visits a week to the centre, with the average shopper staying two to three hours.

The centre would undergo two further major expansions - the first across Kiora Road, which was completed in 1998, and the most recent upgrade, which opened in 2014.

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