Site secured for new Wakatipu primary school for 2015

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.
A primary school for 450 pupils will be built in the heart of a new $300 million residential development near Queenstown and it is expected to open by February 2015.

After months of silence from the Ministry of Education about its long-term plans in the Wakatipu basin, Education Minister Hekia Parata and Associate Minister Craig Foss yesterday confirmed 3ha of Shotover Country has been earmarked for the school.

Owned by Ladies Mile Partnership, Shotover Country is 120ha of rural land between the Shotover River and Lake Hayes Estate and considered one of last pockets available for major residential development in the basin.

Seven hundred and fifty homes are planned for the development.

Ms Parata said confirmation of the agreement to purchase the site was "excellent news".

"Queenstown is growing and the community needs extra schooling capacity. The Shotover site is well located and will ensure young learners are well catered for," she said.

"The site we have identified will have good vehicle, cycling and pedestrian routes to the existing Lake Hayes Estate and give Queenstown students new and exciting educational opportunities in a modern 21st-century environment."

Mr Foss said Shotover Country was identified as a logical choice for the location of a new school, given it was central to population growth and also the positive attributes of the site.

"The site is part of a wider plan to expand schooling capacity in the area," he said.

"Earlier this year, a new site for the Wakatipu High School was acquired in the Remarkables Park development and the school is expected to move to the new site in the near future.

"The Shotover site purchase is another important development in the provision of education in the Queenstown area."

Developer Grant Stalker, of Ladies Mile Partnership, said yesterday the first stage of 54 residential sections was attracting much interest from young families entering the property market.

Confirmation of a primary school would give them and other buyers extra confidence, he said.

Yesterday's announcement follows the opening of the $17.3 million Remarkables Primary School in Frankton in February 2010.

The ministry said yesterday construction of the Shotover school was expected to start between October next year and the following January, but it was subject to planning consents and development time-tabling.

It was too early to determine the school's name, construction budget, number of staff required and enrolment capacity, the ministry said.

Remarkables Primary, which has a capacity of 460 pupils, had 455 on its roll yesterday. Another six pupils were expected to enrol before the end of the year.

A double classroom unit is set to be delivered in time for the beginning of term one. Two further teaching spaces are to be available by the end of term two, to cater for the overflowing population.

Board chairwoman Fiona Woodham said yesterday she and trustees were "delighted to see the ministry implement its plans for a new primary school and recognise this is an area of continued growth".

"We will be very much supporting the new school in the run-up to it opening and when it opens."

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden said the announcement was "very pleasing" for education in the Wakatipu.

"It's good to see certainty around planning for current and future growth and I'm looking forward to hearing more about the timeline for the school's establishment."