The vision for sale and development of a piece of Whangaparaoa College’s land has expanded, with Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment (MBIE) hoping to carve off a sizeable chunk as well as some of the college’s main driveway.
Last November the Ministry of Education began the process of selling the college land that runs along Whangaparaoa Road, west from the corner of Stanmore Bay Road to opposite the town centre. That process is ongoing, but in recent weeks, officials from MBIE approached principal James Thomas about also taking 2.19 hectares on the other side of the college’s main driveway.
Both pieces of land are zoned Residential – Terraced Housing and Apartments and Mr Thomas says the meeting made clear that they were after land that could be sold and developed “to help meet the need for more houses”.
“I think there is a minimum total size of land needed and the land already earmarked for sale on the south side of our driveway, along Whangaparaoa Road, isn’t enough to make a housing development worthwhile,” Mr Thomas says.
He says if the plan goes ahead, it would mean that as well as the land, which is currently unused, the school will lose a large portion of its driveway, which runs between the two sites – that would become a public road and the school’s entranceway would begin from its upper carpark.
Mr Thomas says after just one meeting, nothing has been decided but the Ministry holds all the cards. “We will go into bat for the needs of the school. Our roll is going up rapidly and our board is mindful that in three to five years we will need more classrooms. However, at the end of the day it’s not our decision.”
The school also raised concerns about the effect of any possible development on the wider community, including traffic on an already busy section of Whangaparaoa Road. “The Ministry says this is an issue for Auckland Council and Auckland Transport,” Mr Thomas says.
When the Ministry sells land, a financial contribution is made to the affected school –generally up to 50 percent of net proceeds from the sale of surplus non-housing land.
Mr Thomas says while any additional funds are positive for the school, that money is held by the Ministry and the college has to make a case to access it.
“On balance, we are very fortunate with the land and facilities we have and although I would have thought that land might have made a good place for something such as a community house, the political will is all about housing.”