Preschool is hemmed in

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

The ex­ten­sion of a Pukerua Bay preschool on to re­serve land has seen Porirua City Coun­cil ac­cused of not com­mu­ni­cat­ing prop­erly with res­i­dents.

Welling­ton Free Kinder­garten is propos­ing an ex­ten­sion to its build­ing and carpark at 8 Wairaka Rd in Pukerua Bay.

High teacher costs and build­ing re­pairs mean the preschool needs to in­crease its roll, and there­fore its build­ing size, to be fi­nan­cially vi­able.

How­ever, the build­ing is on coun­cil-owned Raroa Re­serve and the preschool can­not get re­source con­sent for its ex­ten­sion un­less the coun­cil re­clas­si­fies part of the re­serve, which at present is pro­tected.

About 1500 square me­tres of land would be re­clas­si­fied as a lo­cal pur­pose re­serve for com­mu­nity use.

The coun­cil put the mat­ter out for pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion from May 24 to June 24 this year, plac­ing news­pa­per ads and con­sult­ing with Pukerua Bay Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion.

Seven pub­lic sub­mis­sions were re­ceived, six op­pos­ing the ex­ten­sion and one, from the res­i­dents’ as­so­ci­a­tion, ex­press­ing neu­tral­ity.

Pukerua Bay busi­ness ana- lyst Peter Gibbs, who lives next door to the preschool, took his op­po­si­tion to last Thurs­day’s coun­cil meet­ing, chastis­ing the coun­cil for its lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion about the is­sue.

‘‘If you’re go­ing to re­clas­sify ar­eas of re­serve make sure the com­mu­nity knows what’s go­ing on,’’ he said.

‘‘An ad in the lo­cal rag that gets [thrown away] the next night is not a good way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with res­i­dents.’’

Al­low­ing re­clas­si­fi­ca­tion for a com­mer­cial pur­pose was not an ac­cept­able rea­son, Mr Gibbs said.

‘‘ It’s not a com­mu­ni­ty­driven pro­ject, it’s a com­mer­cially-driven pro­ject.’’

Chil­dren used the grass area be­hind the preschool to play cricket in sum­mer, and it should re­main a com­mu­nity space, Mr Gibbs said.

The ex­ten­sion of the build­ing into the ex­ist­ing drive­way would re­move a turn­ing bay for cars vis­it­ing the li­brary, which would have to re­verse out to the road, he said.

He also fears in­creas­ing the size of the preschool will re­sult in high traf­fic of 30 to 60 cars a day.

‘‘This de­vel­op­ment can­not go for­ward. The dis­rup­tion of ac­cess to the lo­cal com­mu­nity is high.’’

The RSA or Pukerua Bay School were more ap­pro­pri­ate sites for the preschool, Mr Gibbs sug­gested.

Welling­ton Free Kinder­garten took over man­age­ment of the preschool in 2006 from Plun­ket, which had strug­gled to stay afloat.

The preschool can cur­rently cater for 13 chil­dren each morn­ing, which would in­crease to 30 if the ex­ten­sion went ahead.

When it first pro­posed the ex­ten­sion to the coun­cil in Septem­ber last year, it had planned for a two-storey build­ing but con­sul­ta­tion with the res­i­dents’ as­so­ci­a­tion con­vinced it to re­main a on­e­storey build­ing, coun­cil re­source plan­ner for leisure as­sets Katie Brown said.

Raroa Re­serve is cur­rently clas­si­fied as a scenic ‘‘a’’ re­serve, an area of scenic in­ter­est and beauty to be pro­tected and pre­served in per­pe­tu­ity.

How­ever, cur­rent use of the area is al­ready in con­tra­dic­tion to the re­serve’s clas­si­fi­ca­tion, Ms Brown says.

Tech­ni­cally the coun­cil should not mow the grass area be­hind the li­brary, as it is not sup­posed to cut veg­e­ta­tion on scenic ‘‘a’’ re­serves.

Preschool ex­pan­sion: An ar­chi­tect’s plan shows the ex­ist­ing Wairaka St Preschool build­ing, in red, and its pro­posed ex­ten­sion into Raroa Re­serve land.

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