Restrictions on new Queenstown school

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A new high school will face restrictions on outdoor teaching if built near Queenstown Airport as planned.
 
The Ministry of Education has earmarked a site in the Remarkable Park zone, off Hawthorne Drive, Frankton.
 
It is understood the building itself would be outside the airport’s ‘operational control boundary’ (OCB) – and noise levels would be below an average of 55 decibels immediately outside.
 
But sections of the playing field would be within the boundary.
 
That means academic lessons which require “high quality listening” will face restrictions.
 
Ministry of Education lawyer Robert Makgill today (Friday) explained the need for the restrictions to an Environment Court hearing into Plan Change 35.
 
The hearing concerns the airport’s bid to extend its noise boundaries.
 
The restrictions address Air New Zealand’s concerns that the MoE could build a school and then complain about aircraft noise in the future.
 
Makgill says: “The intention is to avoid reverse sensitivity noise complaints that would have an adverse affect on airport operations.”
 
The exact wording of the restrictions was debated by expert witness and a panel headed by Judge Jane Borthwick.
 
One possible outcome could see outside academic teaching restricted to 30-minute sessions. But Makgill told the court overzealous enforcement could be an issue.
 
“I have images of a council officer with a stopwatch standing on the road by the school boundary watching groups of students,” he says.
 
The Plan Change 35 hearing is expected to conclude on Tuesday next week, with summing up by lawyers representing the various parties.
 
They have already reached an agreement on the proposed changes – which allow the airport to expand its noise boundaries to allow for its growth to 2037. Residential and commercial development within those boundaries will be restricted.
 
Today, the court heard from expert planning and acoustic witnesses. Over the last three days, the main concern has been to tie up loose ends and refine the wording of the document.
 
One other issue today concerned private land within rural zones which were partially inside the OCB. The definition of the word ‘site’ needed to be refined to ensure owners could build on their land outside the OCB.