Residents of Richmond West and Nelson MP Nick Smith are pushing the Ministry of Education to get on with buying the land and confirming plans for a new school.
“The population of Richmond is growing so strongly that we need a new primary school and the logical place for it is in the Berryfields development in Richmond West. The hundreds of new homes being constructed need a school within walking or biking distance and will help Richmond West develop as a community. Children not having to cross the congested State Highway every day for school will also reduce the pressure on the busy lower Queen Street intersection. A school will also make the Richmond West subdivision more attractive for families with children.
“Getting this new school underway will also help address Nelson’s housing pressures. My experience as Housing Minister was that once a school was built in a development, the houses sold much more quickly, providing the much needed finances for the private sector to build more homes. We went from a situation in Hobsonville before the school was built where completed homes took six months to sell to when the school was completed they were being sold off the plans 12 months in advance.
“I have been working with the Ministry of Education, Richmond West Developments and other partners to secure a suitable school site over the past year. A 3 ha site has been identified on Berryfields Drive and I am pushing for the purchase to be settled as quickly as possible.
“The Ministry of Education has initiated a Waimea Schooling Network Future Development Strategy with the schools of Appleby, Brightwater, Henley, Hope, Mahana, Mapua, Ranzau, Richmond, Wakefield, Upper Moutere, Waimea Intermediate and Waimea College.
A public meeting was held at Brightwater School last week and a further meeting at Waimea College was scheduled last Thursday but postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions. Dr Smith has had over a dozen meetings with surrounding schools, the Ministry, neighbouring businesses and the developers over the past month.
“I am supportive of the Ministry of Education engaging with the wider school network but firmly believe a new school in Richmond West is warranted. We are forecasting 1800 new homes in this area and a primary school population of 350, that makes a good sized roll. I am open to the new primary school being for years 1- 6 or 1-8 but most of all I want the Ministry to get on and secure the site.
“The Ministry is also including options of growing existing schools and of relocating Ranzau School to the proposed Berryfields site. They have also raised the option of some primary schools like Appleby, Brightwater, Hope and Wakefield keeping their pupils until Year 8, so as to take pressure off Waimea Intermediate. The Ministry refers to this as a recapitation.
“I encourage schools and parents in the Waimea area to engage in the Ministry of Education process and have their views heard. The petition from the Richmond West residents is particularly important as they are the most affected.
“People can sign the petition supporting the new Berryfields School at my office or at my caravan that will be in Sundial Square in Richmond this Saturday morning.”