School's bid to lease public land rejected
A bid by a private Christchurch school to lease a strip of public land has been declined by the city council.
Cathedral Grammar School had asked the council to stop a section of Chester St West, which divides the school's site, being used as a road and then lease it to the school.
The section, defined as a pedestrian mall, provides a link between Park Tce and Cranmer Square and is closed to vehicles on school days from 9.30am to 2pm.
Residents feared allowing the school's bid would alienate the public from the land.
Councillors voted to decline the request at a full council meeting today.
Previously, the school's headmaster, Paul Kennedy, said it was about the safety of the children.
Cr Yani Johanson said leasing or closing off the road to the public would not achieve any greater safety outcomes.
He said there were several public spaces, such as libraries and children's playgrounds, where children ran around freely.
"No matter what you do you can never eliminate the risk of people that want to do bad things in our society," he said.
Johanson said the road was a vital link between Cranmer Square and Halgey Park for residents and must remain so at all times, not just outside of school hours.
Cr Tim Carter said it was not ideal to have a public road going through a primary school, especially when children would constantly be crossing. However, it was not fair for a public thoroughfare to be taken away from the local community.
Cr Aaron Keown, who was the only councillor to vote against declining the application, said as a father of two he did not feel comfortable with strangers walking through the school freely.
The school had previously sought to buy the land from the council but changed it to a request to lease it because of public desire for it to remain in council ownership.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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