Safe link between three Christchurch schools likely after MP's lobbying

Ilam MP Sarah Pallett’s efforts to get the Ministry of Education to keep safe access between...
Ilam MP Sarah Pallett’s efforts to get the Ministry of Education to keep safe access between three schools has been met with success. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Ilam MP Sarah Pallett’s efforts in lobbying the Ministry of Education to keep a safe access way between three Christchurch schools appears to have been successful.

Ilam MP Sarah Pallett. Photo: Supplied
Ilam MP Sarah Pallett. Photo: Supplied
Since meeting with Pallett, the ministry is now keen to work with Cobham Intermediate, Burnside Primary and Allenvale schools on keeping an access way after the current one is closed.

It comes after Pallett raised the issue at a Fendalton-Waimairi-Harewood Community Board meeting last month, as the path keeps children, pedestrians and cyclists off the road when moving between schools.

In its original plan, the ministry, which owns the land, initially did not include the path due to the nature of the schools’ new building layout.

The schools are being rebuilt as part of a $1.3 billion Christchurch Schools Rebuild Programme, involving the rebuild or redevelopment of 115 earthquake-damaged schools.

Said Pallett: “I have since met with MoE staff and I am pleased to report the ministry is keen to work with the schools, community board, council and other stakeholders to actively consider options for a new access way.

“Due to the of the schools’ redevelopment, the access way would need to be moved. The move cost-effective and appropriate options are being considered.”

In addition to their rebuilds, Cobham and Burnside, which share the same site, will soon host Allenvale School as it is building a satellite school there, along with another new base in Belfast.

The pathway is currently closed to allow for construction work. The reinstatement is likely to come near the end of the project, which is scheduled for completion by late 2023.

Pallett’s immediate concern in the meantime was keeping pedestrians and cyclists off school grounds during school hours, while allowing for them to safely continue to move through the site outside school hours.

“I will be talking with [Cobham] principal Eddie Norgate on the best way to achieve this for the duration of the redevelopment,” she said.

Last week, community board deputy chairman David Cartwright told Nor’West News keeping cyclists safe was a “No 1 priority” for the ward, especially at the path as it is used by dozens of pupils and the public every day.

In discussions with Pallett, the ministry agreed with the importance of the reinstatement.

Although it was technically not within their remit, the ministry also indicated that it was open to funding the reasonable costs of relocating the walkway.

Said Pallett: “The ministry agrees that the walkway is of considerable benefit to the community, and officials have been receptive to my suggestion that a combined funding approach be considered.

“In short, the suggestion that I put to them was that the walkway itself be funded by the ministry, with lighting being provided either by the community board or council.

“I personally feel that this is a very pragmatic and fair solution that will be of enormous benefit to our community.”

Pallett has not yet brought these suggestions to the community board and city council.

She will raise the option with the board in a letter, along with an update on her discussions with MoE.

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