New school near one marked to close

A second new primary school is planned for Christchurch's northern suburbs but another, minutes up the road, is earmarked for closure.

The Education Ministry is proposing to build a new year 1 to 8 school catering for about 750 pupils in the Prestons Rd subdivision, which is expected to attract 8000 residents. At the same time the ministry is proposing to close Ouruhia Model School, less than 4 kilometres up the road.

Marshland School is expected to be relocated to the new school site.

The news comes weeks after the ministry confirmed plans to build a new 900-pupil school at the fast-growing Pegasus development about 20km north of the Prestons development.

Ouruhia Model School principal Mark Ashmore-Smith said the school would be quite accessible from the north end of the Prestons subdivision and it was "short-sighted" to force it to close because of the development.

Ministry regional operations deputy secretary Katrina Casey said Ouruhia's proximity to red-zoned land meant its roll was unlikely to grow.

"Ouruhia Model School is located some distance from the Prestons development.

"It is desirable for a school to be within walking distance of its students, especially in an urban setting."

Casey said the proposed relocation of Marshland School into the Prestons development would provide greater access for pupils who would be drawn from the development in the future.

But the plan was still only a proposal and subject to consultation, she said.

The subdivision, a joint venture between Ngai Tahu, supermarket owner Foodstuffs and Singapore-owned developer CDL New Zealand, is a 203-hectare development that will have 2500 sections.

The first sections are about to go on sale but building will not begin until the titles are ready in December next year.

Prestons Road Ltd chairman David Schwartfeger said he had set aside 3ha of land for a school.

The subdivision was given the go-ahead after Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee used emergency powers to approve it.

Marshland School principal Jacqui Pascoe said details had not been finalised but the ministry had told the school the Prestons Road development was the likely site for the school in the future.

"I've been here four years and almost as soon as I got here I realised Marshland School was going to be the new school of the Prestons Road subdivision."

She was not sure when planning was due to start for the new school but she had been told it could be in the next two years.

The school was close to its 223 cap with 210 pupils and it was expected to reach 220 by the end of the year.

The Press