College Park is the preferred site for a new intermediate school to be built as part of Te Tātoru o Wairau.
The Ministry of Education has confirmed the park is the best option for the relocation of Bohally Intermediate, minimising disruption to teaching and learning at both the intermediate and Blenheim’s two colleges.
The decision comes as master planning progresses for what is one of the Ministry of Education’s largest and most complex infrastructure projects.
Te Tātoru o Wairau will see the co-location of Marlborough Boys’ and Girls’ Colleges on the site currently occupied by the girls’ college and Bohally Intermediate on McLauchlan St, with the intermediate to be rebuilt on the current boys’ college property.
Master planning will take the bulk of this year to complete, and will include layout of the school sites, staging of the construction process, and cultural features.
Ministry of Education project director for Te Tātoru o Wairau, Simon Trotter, says College Park has many benefits including for the staging of the construction phase for the three schools.
“It provides the three schools with the ability to continue operating normally while construction of the new intermediate is underway,” Mr Trotter says.
“Parents, caregivers and whānau have been clear in saying a key concern for this project is around ensuring disruption to teaching and learning is minimised. College Park gives us the ability to address this, while also being an ideal site for the school.”
While a preferred layout for the new intermediate campus is yet to be confirmed, Mr Trotter says the site will feature green space – something that the park’s neighbours had been passionate about retaining.
“The design will respond to feedback provided by College Park neighbours in March. We’ll be staying in touch with neighbours and will hold public information sessions later this year once we have preferred site layouts for the three schools,” he says.
“We’re excited to share our plans for the schools with the community over the coming months.”
College Park land is owned by Rangitāne o Wairau and leased to the Ministry of Education for educational use. Some of the land is also used by Marlborough Hockey under a peppercorn lease with the Marlborough District Council, which is due to end in 2028. The Blenheim Roller Skating Club is also based at College Park.
Mr Trotter says the ministry has been engaging with the council throughout master planning and is proposing an early termination of the council’s College Park lease in order to bring forward the construction of the new Intermediate and Colleges.
“We are working closely with Council as it considers this proposal and will support Council’s work as much as possible to transition from the site,” Mr Trotter says.
Mayor John Leggett says the council will work through the impact of the early termination of its lease on sports users of the park.
“Te Tātoru o Wairau is a major government investment in Marlborough and a significant commitment to education in the region for future generations. After many years to get to this stage it is pleasing to see firm progress being made with the project’s master planning,” Mayor Leggett says.
“While Council is supportive of the project we are mindful that existing sports organisations at the park would need to transition to alternate facilities at the end of the council’s lease of College Park in 2028. Earlier termination of our lease shortens the time available for this, so Council needs to understand the implications of this before agreeing to an early termination,” Mayor Leggett says.
Marlborough Technology Centre will move with Bohally Intermediate. Mr Trotter says this will free up much-needed space at the McLauchlan St campus for the co-located colleges.
“Rebuilding the technology centre provides a real opportunity for future technology education in Marlborough. There remains a need for the centre to be located near the intermediate, but the move will also bring the centre closer to more of the 15 primary schools that use it,” Mr Trotter says.
He says the ministry will work with Rangitāne o Wairau to explore future use of the remaining boys’ college land. This will occur after master planning for the three schools has finished.
Rangitāne o Wairau, along with other tangata whenua iwi of Te Tau Ihu (top of the South Island) iwi Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Kuia, and Ngāti Toa, are Crown partners for Te Tātoru o Wairau.
Bohally Intermediate School principal Nicky Cameron-Dunn says the school is very happy with College Park being the preferred option for the new school rebuild.
“College Park allows the project to move ahead with less disruption in that all three schools can continue to operate as the build is happening,” Mrs Cameron-Dunn says.
“It lessens the need to look at transitional school sites or even the possibility of co-sharing current sites.”
Mrs Cameron-Dunn says College Park has always been a space in town that is designated to be used for education and is currently already used by Marlborough Boys College for its teaching and learning programmes.
“A school is a nice place to live next to. We will be bringing updated sports fields, playgrounds and hard courts that will benefit the community” she says.
“We look forward to building positive relationships with all of our potential new neighbours.”
Marlborough Boys’ College principal John Kendal says the college is impressed with the thought and detailed work from the architects and ministry to advance the plans that will deliver the best outcome for the future with minimal disruption to its ākonga during the construction phase.
“The option to rebuild Bohally on the College Park part of our current campus will deliver a great facility for intermediate students. While there will be a short-term impact for our sport programmes, from losing some access to College Park, we feel that this disruption is manageable and will be far less than if the construction of Bohally was to take place at our main site,” Mr Kendal says.
“It is really fantastic that the detailed master planning required to effectively sequence an education transformation project as complex as Te Tātoru o Wairau is on track. It is reassuring that the timeline has not been further impacted on by Covid-related delays,” he says.
Further information about the design and construction of the kura will be shared publicly as the plans develop.