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Schools open for all


24 March 2006

Schools open for all

Auckland City is moving to give schools greater flexibility to hire out their grounds and buildings for community use.

The council has approved a change to the District Plan, which would mean 127 schools in the Auckland City area could open their doors outside of school hours for purposes other than education.

In the past, schools in the isthmus have had to apply for a resource consent in order for their grounds and buildings to be used by groups like scouts and gym clubs.

The Plan Change 92 will also introduce controls for after-hours activities in schools to ensure that the impact on neighbours is limited.

The chairperson of the council's Planning and Regulatory Committee, Councillor Glenda Fryer, says the change is a sensible one that balances the needs of schools and their neighbours.

She says it should be welcomed by the city's schools.

"Schools are valuable community resources, but they're frequently under-used outside of school hours and this has been frustrating for both schools and community groups.

"It's a common sense move for the council to do its bit and change the rules to give schools the freedom and flexibility to control what occurs on their grounds outside of school hours," Ms Fryer says.

She says the change could also financially benefit schools because they may be able secure a new revenue stream by hiring out their buildings and grounds to other parties.

It will also mean that they no longer have to pay fees for resource consents to allow community groups to use their buildings and grounds.

Ms Fryer says there are a number of conditions attached to the plan change, which applies to most schools zoned special purpose 2 in the isthmus.

"We have been very careful to balance the needs of schools with the rights of those who live near schools. We're introduced a number of restrictions so that the impact on neighbours is minimal," Ms Fryer says.

The conditions include ensuring that:

- activities take place outside of school hours

- activities do not take place before 8am or after 10pm between Monday and Saturday

- activities do not take place before 9am or after 6pm on Sundays and public holidays

- activities do not exceed 12 hours per day

- groups comply with noise controls

- groups comply with signage, lighting and parking controls.

Schools will still need a resource consent if they do not meet these conditions and they will have to ensure that all groups using their premises are aware of the rules.

Ms Fryer says all schools affected by Plan Change 92 will be notified in writing of the change.


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