Council Appeals To The Environment Court
Council appeals on Minister’s rejection of Albany Senior High School recommendations
North Shore City Council has appealed to the Environment Court following the Education Minister’s rejection of council recommendations on the placement of a new Senior High School in Albany.
The council describes this as a short term measure to achieve the best outcomes in the shortest possible time. There are three other appellants the council is aware of - the Auckland Regional Council, the North Harbour Stadium Trust and the Landing Residents Group.
The council is hopeful that a number of issues, including Council's concerns, can be resolved through mediation, which is the next compulsory step in the appeal process.
It wants to see the school proceed within the targeted timeframes, and does not want to see a costly Environment Court hearing but hopes that the mediation process can resolve these appeals.
Mayor Andrew Williams says the council is already working with Education Ministry officials to achieve the best possible outcomes and resolve the issues.
A working group including the Mayor, Cr. Margaret Miles, Cr Lisa Whyte, and Cr Grant Gillon has been set up to negotiate and mediate a solution. On Friday the working group undertook a further site inspection, and a mediation/negotiation meeting is being organised for this week
“The council’s aim is to negotiate a solution to the challenges the site presents, and then have the Court grant a “consent order”. This should not delay the school’s opening in 2010 and indeed we believe this will produce a better overall outcome for the school and the students,” says Mayor Williams.
The council says the school site has significant natural and cultural heritage values that the wider Albany and North Shore communities have an interest in and greatly value. A high quality environment is good for education, good for business, and important for sustainable living. The Albany highway is also due for major widening and upgrading, and this must be integrated with not only this important high school but the many other major land uses in the locality and particularly the other schools and Massey University.
The Council’s main concerns relate to the impacts on a section of native bush and the stream environment at the southern corner of the site and the native bush area which will be affected by the potential development of several hard courts. The council also wants to ensure that there is safe and efficient traffic and pedestrian movement. Having buses offload and load all pupils on the school grounds and not on the side of the road is very important, it says.
The site also has important connections with the past, with some original school buildings and historic trees and the ‘heritage precinct’ needs to be safeguarded for future generations. The Council and the Ministry appear to have a similar view on these aspects.
Mayor Williams says he and the Deputy Mayor, councillors and staff are now working hard to resolve all outstanding issues.
“We also intend to lead the process to get all parties around the table to try to resolve their concerns, as we did in the case of the Albany Junior High School, where we ensured the change of designation and the approval of the outline plan was given utmost priority. North Shore City Council values our schools - and the welfare of our children is paramount - and will do our utmost to ensure the best outcome. We are going to need the goodwill and co-operation of all interested parties to achieve this objective,” he says.