Burleigh site considered for new school

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 08:10 04/07/2014
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A new "greenfields" combined college could end up being built in Burleigh, Blenheim.

At a public meeting on Wednesday night the idea of co-locating the two single sex colleges on a shared site was supported. It was likely to need a new site to provide enough space for the students, sports fields, hall and gymnasium, and potentially workshops for specialist courses.

Marlborough Boys' College principal Wayne Hegarty said the Marlborough District Council had already started scoping potential sites.

Council chief executive Andrew Besley confirmed yesterday the council had identified "a number of potential sites" for a possible new school, combining Marlborough boys' and girls' colleges.

They had done a "high-level paper exercise" to find 20-hectare sites close enough to Blenheim, he said.

There were two obvious sites, one being the Colonial Vineyards site off New Renwick Rd, and the other being off Battys Rd, owned by Norman Clifford and the Marris family, Besley said.

The council had not talked to the owners of the land, Besley said. "These are potentially from a high-level viewpoint potential areas but it depends on the aspirations of the owners."

Colonial Vineyards spokesman Mark Davis said he had not been contacted about the idea, and he was focused on a High Court appeal on the land's rezoning to residential.

Clifford said he had no idea his property could be in the mix.

"I would consider it; I wouldn't instantly rule it out.

"Everything's available at a price." There were a lot of advantages in having the two colleges together, he said.

In the information provided by the Education Ministry, co-locating the schools, moving them closer or going co-educational would require land acquisition.

"The ministry would consider negotiating land acquisition for a greenfields site, if the girls' college site was unworkable because there was not enough land for sports fields, the community wanted a tertiary provider included, and a suitable site was available."

Marlborough Girls' College principal Karen Stewart said the college could see real benefits from a co-located site.

Hegarty said his board felt if the schools could share a hall and administration block, then more funding could go into buildings to support teaching and learning and other priority areas the school and its community might choose.

A new site should be large enough to have sports fields on the campus and potential tertiary courses and their requirements, such as an auto workshop or horticulture block.

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Neither college's site was big enough for that, he said.

"Based on our combined boys' and girls' colleges' student footprint of 17.16ha, the boys' college board of trustees do not believe that the Marlborough Girls' College site of 8ha will provide adequate space now or future proof for 30 years on.

"To occur in a way that will meet the needs of future students, we believe a greenfield site must be considered."

- The Marlborough Express

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