Council recommends selling Redcliffs Park for new Redcliffs School

Redcliffs School should be relocated to Redcliffs Park, a council hearings panel has decided.
DAVID WALKER/STUFF

Redcliffs School should be relocated to Redcliffs Park, a council hearings panel has decided.

The penultimate step towards returning Redcliffs School to the suburb has "elated" the school's leadership.

A hearings panel recommended the Christchurch City Council sell Redcliffs Park to the Ministry of Education. 

The decision has left those wanting the park retained deflated, but a judicial review is unlikely. 

Redcliffs School student Mia Cleugh, 13, speaks during a hearing on the land swap.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFF

Redcliffs School student Mia Cleugh, 13, speaks during a hearing on the land swap.

The panel on Friday acknowledged the loss of the park would be "a disappointment to some", but considered the school site a suitable replacement.

"This is a matter which has been contentious, divisive and there has been perhaps anger in the Redcliffs community from time to time," said deputy mayor Andrew Turner, who chaired the panel. 

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Redeveloping the Redcliffs School site on Main Rd is likely to cost $500,000.
GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

Redeveloping the Redcliffs School site on Main Rd is likely to cost $500,000.

"This is the beginning of a successful end to what has been a frustrating process."

Friday's discussion centred largely on balancing council's ability to negotiate how much the ministry would pay towards redeveloping the Redcliffs School site as a park with the possibility it could walk away from the deal if conditions were too strict.

Councillor Sarah Templeton opposed recommending conditions of the land swap for that reason. Councillor Glenn Livingstone and Linwood-Central-Heathcote community board member Darrell Latham were more reticent, noting costs should not fall back on ratepayers.

Redcliffs School Principal Rose McInerney was "elated" the school will return to Redcliffs after six years.
GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

Redcliffs School Principal Rose McInerney was "elated" the school will return to Redcliffs after six years.

"This has been a Ministry of Education initiative," Latham said.

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"I think the minimum we should expect from the ministry is nearly full cost reimbursement."

Demolition, a new fence, grass and toilets were likely to cost about $500,000, council staff estimated.

Ministry of Education representative Coralanne Child said it was open to negotiation, favouring a "like for like" arrangement. Buildings and car parks at Redcliffs School could be left there if the council wanted them.

"The ministry is committed to relocating Redcliffs School ... we will sit at the table and resolve the things that need to be resolved."

The Friends of Redcliffs Park, which opposed the land swap, have little recourse to contest the decision. 

Chairwoman Simi Desor felt "disempowered" after a lengthy campaign against what she said was a foregone conclusion.

Member Chris Doudney said the group awaited a decision from the Ombudsman on whether Redcliffs School should have returned to its Main Rd site, but could not afford or see any point in a judicial review.

"This is a betrayal of the citizens of Christchurch. It's an enormous waste of money and an irresponsible decision."

Redcliffs School principal Rose McInerney was "elated" by the unanimous recommendation.

"When you have been away for six years you have to celebrate every little thing."

The school was committed to working with its community and the Friends of Redcliffs Park to make its new site publicly accessible, she said.

The hearings panel recommended the council prioritise a speed zone for the new Redcliffs School. It asked the ministry to retain public access to Moa Bone Cave and the Coastal Pathway once the swap was finalised.

The recommendations will go before council for approval on September 7.

 - Stuff

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