Tauranga City Council is opposing a resource application to build a 700 pupil private school on a former kiwifruit orchard in Pyes Pa.
The proposed private school is to be sited in Western Bay of Plenty District Council territory, at the intersection of Keenan and Pyes Pa Roads.
The Academic Colleges Group has applied to build a private school for up to 700 students in Pyes Pa.
The city council objection is based on the site being located in a future urban growth area (Pyes Pa South), identified in SmartGrowth Strategy and in the Regional Policy Statement.
The purpose of the planning documents is to ensure growth occurs in an integrated manner so that land use, infrastructure provision and infrastructure funding are aligned.
The plan is for development to begin in the area after 2021. But SmartGrowth didn’t anticipate Psa-V, and a rush of kiwifruit orchards selling cheap.
Historically, where urban growth was located on the district boundary, it has then been absorbed into the city council boundary.
Currently farmland, the area is zoned residential and subdivision consent has been granted for the development for residential purposes.
As the area is within the urban growth limits, the landscape character of the area will change over time from a working rural landscape to an urban landscape.
The Western BOP District Council obtained a legal opinion from Cooney Lees and Morgan in respect of the proposal and the city council objections.
It states schools are not classified as urban activities and are community facilities that can be located in urban or rural areas.
The legal opinion also notes schools are intentionally excluded from the calculation of dwelling yields, so it cannot be assumed the whole of Keenan Road is to be given over to residential development for the purpose of calculating infrastructure funding.
Cooney Lees and Morgan go on to say they don’t think the urban growth provisions of the regional policy statement are intended to capture the establishment of schools.
Consultant planner Anna Gardiner says there’s insufficient evidence to conclude that the proposed school will have adverse effects in terms of infrastructure provision or funding.
The hearing, held at the WBOP District Council offices, was before independent commissioner Russell De Luca, who reserved his decision.
Because of the statutory holidays the decision is not expected to be known until January.
The applicant is NZ based independent school group, Academic Colleges Group, which bought the 14Ha block earlier this year and announced plans to build in August.
The secular group’s plan is to develop an independent school offering education from Year 1-6 at first with the school roll growing in two year increments after that.
“It will be an independent secular school, co-educational, and of course we are still working out the details of the curriculum,” says ACG group director of marketing Kim Harase.
“But we will be offering the Cambridge international curriculum, as we do in our Auckland schools.”
The school’s catchment includes Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty townships.
The ACG Group’s first school opened in Auckland in 1994. The group now has five schools in the Auckland region and two international schools in Asia.
Stage one of the Pyes Pa proposal is to establish three building modules on the future sports fields for primary school purposes, the future sports fields, outside play areas, vehicle access and carparking areas and utility buildings .
Following expansion of the roll, the remainder of the development will be undertaken, which will include the relocation of the primary school modular buildings and the establishment of the larger permanent primary school block, secondary school block, ECE facility, administration block, gymnasium, hard courts, sports field, sports pavilion, horticultural building, boarding facility and additional carparking.