Arrowtown School’s roll is in decline ahead of an $11 million redevelopment set to increase its capacity by about 100 pupils.
House prices and rents in the village have sky-rocketed in recent years, raising concerns young families are being priced out of the historic village.
Arrowtown School principal Chris Bryant says the school’s “roll growth has dropped compared with the other schools” in Queenstown.
But the school has “regular requests from people out of zone to come here” and he expects pupil numbers to increase, with next year’s extension and leaky building repair job.
Ministry of Education figures show the school’s roll fell from 558 to 522 between July 2016 and July 2018, the vast majority (28) in 2017-18.
Its roll was 485 in 2014.
Bryant says he can’t see any other reason except the cost of living in the village.
Figures from Quotable Value show Arrowtown’s median house value reached $1 million by July 2016, after almost doubling in the five years since Queenstown’s council decided to create an urban boundary around the village in 2010.
The boundary came into effect in April 2015.
Now, the median is a whopping $1,342,650, compar-ed to Queenstown’s $1,210,800.
The data shows the median weekly rent for both is $675.
Queenstown’s mayor Jim Boult says the council’s aware there’s a “lack of available housing to meet demand” in the village, causing property values to rise.
And Julie Scott, executive officer at Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust, says “there does appear to be a link” between the rising costs and the school roll.
The trust’s proposed an affordable housing development of up to 70 dwellings be built on council-owned land on Jopp Street.
David Clarke, director of Lakes District Museum, says that can “really help the school roll”.
He says work to protect Arrowtown from “rampant growth” made the village a highly desirable place to live and led to a “huge influx” of wealthy buyers taking houses out of the rental market.
“Many young families in Arrowtown have traditionally rented and now this option is being removed.”
He says without them, the village will become an “enclave of the rich”.