Confirmation for site of new school

Jim Boult
Jim Boult
For the second day in a row, Queenstown residents are waking up to news of a site for a new primary school.

The Otago Daily Times has learned the Ministry of Education agreed in November to buy a 3ha site at Hanley's Farm for $7million.

The giant subdivision between Jack's Point and Frankton has been touted as the likely location of a new school since the ministry announced it was searching for suitable land two years ago.

Only yesterday, the ODT reported a new school is planned for the Ladies Mile area, between Frankton and Lake Hayes.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed the move in a statement, saying the Government was ''delighted'' to secure the Hanley's Farm site.

''The Wakatipu Basin is experiencing strong population growth, and we want to ensure we stay ahead of that with good planning and investment.''

The ministry would begin working with the Queenstown Lakes District Council in the next few days to officially designate the land for educational purposes.

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said he had been aware of the negotiations for several months, and congratulated the ministry on ''getting the deal done''.

The new school was ''absolutely in the right place''.

''There's pressure on Remarkables and Shotover schools, and this is just a sensible decision by the ministry.''

He did not know the timeframe for building the school, but hoped it was ''sooner rather than later''.

The Queenstown area was ''probably not far away'' from needing a third new school, he said.

A housing boom fuelled by growing resident and visitor numbers is increasingly putting the squeeze on school capacity in the area.

As the council is expecting to receive special housing area proposals within the next few weeks for more than 2500 sections, that pressure will intensify in the coming years.

Among them is a proposal for a 600-lot subdivision, Coneburn, just north of Hanley's Farm.

At Shotover Primary, which opened in 2015, work will begin in May on a new teaching block that will increase its capacity to a maximum of 900 pupils, making it one of the biggest in the country.

The ministry is working on plans to expand the capacity of Remarkables Primary, which opened in 2010, beyond the peak roll envisaged in its original master plan.

An $11million development at Arrowtown School is expected to begin any day to increase its capacity from 600 to about 700, while KingsView School is looking to build so it can grow its roll from 52 to about 150.

An extension to increase Wakatipu High School's capacity from 1200 to 1800 has yet to be officially confirmed, but the school anticipates it will begin in about a year and be completed in 2021.

The construction of the first homes at Hanley's Farm began last winter.

Projected to have 1750 sections, the new settlement is being developed by Melbourne's RCL Group.

RCL chief executive David Wightman did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

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