Private education facility at Pyes Pa will initially cater for 300 students.

Work has started on a new private school at Pyes Pa that will initially cater for up to 300 students.

The first stage of the school, ACG Tauranga, would comprise a primary school block, gymnasium, three sports fields, utility building and early childhood centre, along with associated car parking and landscaping,

An Academic Colleges Group spokesman said the work would be completed by November and the school would initially have a roll of 300 students.

This was expected to rise to 700 once the secondary campus was built. No fees had been set but annual fees at ACG's Strathallan College established in 2001 on a 14ha greenfield site in Papakura were $13,745 for Year 1-6 students, $16,067 for Year 7-10 students and $17,000 for Year 11-13 students

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The news that work had started on the private school came as most Tauranga secondary schools were at or near capacity, with some out-of-zone students being turned away.

Pyes Pa resident James Wilson said he was looking forward to the school opening.

He planned to send his two daughters, Macey, 11, and Brooke, 9, to the new school.

"I have been watching this for a while and had hoped it would open in January this year like they were saying.

"It's just awesome for this area, it is growing so fast and we need as many options for our kids as possible. I have heard really good things about ACG and I don't really care that the fees could be quite high. It is worth it when it comes to your kids' education. I want the best for my kids."

Independent hearing commissioner Russell De Luca approved ACG's application to the Western Bay of Plenty District Council, saying it would help meet the area's education needs.

He ruled against placing a moratorium on the development until the city's urban growth had reached the doorstep of the 14ha site opposite Tauranga Cemetery.

The Pyes Pa development represented the first venture outside of Auckland for ACG's New Zealand operation.

Suburbs would eventually ring the school, with a further 200ha of land behind the site earmarked for future residential development.

In the meantime, the school would be self-sufficient for its water supplies and sewage disposal until the time when Tauranga's urban growth had reached the other side of the intersection. Tauranga City Council argued allowing such a significant part of the urban growth area to develop out of sequence would compromise its ability to provide cost-effective infrastructure.

This in turn would impact on recovering costs from development contributions, with ratepayers picking up the shortfall.

Mr De Luca responded the contributions which might be lost by the early establishment of the school had been overstated.

A consent condition requiring the school to connect to city services once they became available would address the council's concerns.

Mr De Luca was satisfied the development of the school would not impact on SH36 (Pyes Pa Rd), and the layout of the school complex would not compromise future widening of Keenan Rd once residential development commenced. Appeals against Mr De Luca's decision close at the end of this month.

Pyes Pa's planned new private school

*Staged development starts with a primary school up to Years 6 or 7
*Aims to open for the first term of 2015
*Ultimate roll of 700 students once secondary campus opens
*A minimum of 209 on-site carparks.