Bohally Intermediate School will move across town to the current Marlborough Boys’ College site.
Marlborough’s new college campus will be built on the Bohally Intermediate School and Marlborough Girls’ College site, the Education Minister has revealed.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins ended months of speculation on Wednesday morning when he confirmed the multimillion-dollar development would be built at the McLauchlan St site in Blenheim.
Bohally Intermediate School would be re-located to the current Marlborough Boys’ College site, Hipkins confirmed.
Design work was set to start in the New Year.
Hipkins said the decision was made after an extensive search to find an alternative greenfield site – the preferred option of both colleges and the community – proved unsuccessful.
“After years of uncertainty, people in Blenheim finally have clarity about the future locations of both the colleges and Bohally Intermediate,” Hipkins said.
“The search for a suitable site has taken much longer than we would have wanted. The Marlborough community has worked with the Government over many months and we appreciate their time and constructive engagement.
“Marlborough Boys’ and Girls’ colleges’ facilities are in poor condition. Their buildings have deteriorated and have weather tightness issues.”
Ministry head of education infrastructure Kim Shannon said no decisions had been made over possible demolition work at the boys’ college site.
“We will be working with the school to develop the plan including which buildings may best meet their needs and can be redeveloped and which buildings need to be demolished and replaced.”
Then-Education Minister Hekia Parata first announced the co-location plans – two single-sex schools on one site – in 2015. But finding the right site proved difficult.
The ministry announced a 24-hectare vineyard on Alabama Rd was its preferred site in December 2016, but nine months later confirmed rumours it was negotiating with NZ Racing over purchasing part of Waterlea Racecourse, in Blenheim.
Ministry bosses said 392 people submitted, as far back as 2013, in favour of co-locating Marlborough Boys’ and Marlborough Girls’ colleges, while 58 voted to retain the status quo, and 163 wanted a purpose-built co-educational college.
The colleges made new roles in 2016, for fulltime planning managers, to research ideas, consult the community and submit briefs to architects.
By 2018, the estimated cost of the project had ballooned from $63.5 million to about $103m, as the original business case missed several important costings, including increasing enrolments.
Hipkins launched a review of the business case in April, to review the potential sites and to check the community still wanted co-location.
“I’m delighted that we’ve now made progress,” Hipkins said on Wednesday morning. “I would also like to acknowledge the board chair and principal of Bohally Intermediate, who have worked with us to help us find a way forward.”
Marlborough Mayor John Leggett welcomed the decision and said Marlborough had “waited long enough”.
“This is fantastic news for Marlborough families. It provides certainty for intermediate and secondary education in our province for the coming decades.
“I commend Minister Hipkins for rapidly moving this decision forward since his Government was elected … We look forward to working with the Government to deliver a step change in our children’s education.”
The principals of the three schools declined to comment.
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