Colleges could share site

Options under discussion may include Colonial Vineyards and Corlett Trust land on New Renwick Rd, A&P Park and Waterlea Racecourse.
Options under discussion may include Colonial Vineyards and Corlett Trust land on New Renwick Rd, A&P Park and Waterlea Racecourse.

The mayor and Blenheim college leaders are working on a proposal to move Marlborough Boys' College and Marlborough Girls' College to one new site, Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman says.

Mr Sowman confirmed yesterday he was working with the colleges' principals and boards to champion the idea of moving both colleges to one "greenfields" site.

The idea has been discussed with Marlborough MPs, the National Party's Kaikoura MP Colin King and the Green Party's list MP Steffan Browning, he said.

Mr Sowman did not say what site was favoured, but it is understood they have discussed land owned by Colonial Vineyards and Corlett Trust land near Omaka, as well as A&P Park and Waterlea Racecourse.

The ministry was looking at consolidating schools in Marlborough, as it had done in Christchurch, Mr Sowman said. However, the option he believed the ministry favoured, combing both colleges on the girls' college site in Springlands, was not workable because the ministry had ruled out involving Bohally Intermediate in the changes. This meant the site was not big enough, he said.

The question of whether a large college, two colleges, or junior and senior colleges and their various single sex and co-educational options were developed on a new site was up for discussion.

"The greenfields site is now an option, a new site, but what's on it is not decided."

Mr Sowman has urged the ministry to do another round of public consultation with the community before reporting to the minister.

Mark Davis, chairman of the Colonial Vineyard owners' group, said no-one had spoken with him about the idea of moving both schools to the Colonial Vineyard site.

Blenheim lawyer Peter Radich said he submitted to the ministry that the two schools should move to land in Burleigh, near the Omaka airfield, part of which is owned by Colonial Vineyards and part by the Corlett Family Trust.

Mr Radich does legal work for Marlborough District Council and is a trustee for the Corlett Trust. He had made the submission as a citizen, not a trustee, although the Corlett family would not be surprised by the proposal, he said.

He is not part of the group that the mayor has been working with on the greenfields-site proposal.

Mr Radich said in his submission to the ministry that both schools had inherent handicaps that meant they could not, in their current configurations, meet the requirements of the next 100 years. "It is short-sighted and inadequate for no proper consideration to be given to a greenfields site and a new beginning."

The ministry called for submissions regarding the future of the colleges late last year.

In the face of expensive building maintenance issues and a requirement to progressively update teaching and learning spaces, rebuilding one or both of the colleges has been among options aired.

The Marlborough Express