More than $10 million worth of consents for new classrooms and teaching blocks in local schools has driven up Tauranga's latest monthly building consent spend.
A $5.5m consent was issued for a new teaching block at Taumata School, in one of the city's fastest-growing suburbs, while Tauranga City Council also issued a consent worth $3.5m for a new classroom block at Golden Sands School in Pāpāmoa and $1.5m to refurbish one of Tauranga Girls' College's classroom blocks.
The three projects make up more than half of the $18,579,500 of commercial consents issued by Tauranga City Council in September.
Taumata School principal Gen Fuller said stage 2 of the new classroom block would support the school's "exponential growth" to 650 pupils in Years 1 to 8.
"We have worked closely with the Ministry of Education to clearly outline the exponential growth in this area and are fortunate that this Stage 2 was expedited to meet demand."
Stage 2 includes a new teaching block designed for Year 5 to 8 pupils and is equivalent to 13 classrooms.
Fuller said the school first identified its rapid growth and the need for more classroom space in 2019. In early 2020 it was confirmed that stage 2 of the build would be fast-tracked.
However, she said it had taken "considerable time" to finalise plans, seek building consent and gain sign-off from the design review panel.
"As a result of this lengthy process, we are now utilising spaces not originally designed as teaching and learning spaces.
"It appears that this is a common challenge for many local schools to navigate.
"This project is an amendment to the original establishment contract, so we are fortunate in that we did not have a lengthy tender process."
Taumata School opened in February 2019 with 150 pupils, it started 2020 with 339 and by the start of this year there were 462 pupils enrolled.
"Our current roll is 545, with another group of students due to start in week six of this term.
"As a school, we have had exponential growth, which has provided many challenges for physical space."
Fuller said the school was also excited about the arrival of two temporary classrooms to support short-term roll growth, a new astroturf and a planned senior playground.
"These developments support the Board's vision to enhance our school playscape with a variety of projects that meet the varied needs of five-year-olds through to young adolescents."
Golden Sands School principal Melanie Taylor said they were excited that construction was set to begin soon on eight new classrooms.
"It's has been on the boil for about four years. There have been a few delays but it's pretty exciting to finally get it off the ground."
Taylor said it was also exciting to be able to remove the nine temporary pre-fab classrooms that had been put on-site to help cater to the school's growth.
"We couldn't have done it without those."
Tauranga Girls' College's business manager Maxine Bird said the school was delighted to see a project that had been in the design phase for the last two years now physically underway.
Bird said the traditional set-up of the classroom block - C Block - which housed the school's learning hub, guidance counsellors and deans was no longer fit for purpose.
The new design includes a large open teaching space with breakout rooms, kitchen, deans' area and separate guidance offices, as well as a new disability bathroom and shower facilities, which were completed last year.
Bird said the project physically started in August during alert level 3, with Covid and material delivery delays pushing the new completion date to mid-next year.
The school was also upgrading its underground plumbing and drainage and getting new toilet facilities and changing facilities in the gym area, she said.
"While these things are necessary, it is very exciting to be able to embark on a project like C Block."
The Ministry of Education's leader of infrastructure and digital, Scott Evans, said it had delivered more than 760 new teaching spaces to meet ongoing demand across New Zealand schools in the last two years.
"The timeframes for the initiation and delivery of a school expansion are influenced by a range of project-specific factors such as prioritisation of need, the type of delivery solution, ground conditions, school operational requirements, planning and consent processes, and site constraints."
More recently, Covid-19 alert levels and supplier material availability had also influenced delivery timeframes, he said.
The Ministry worked with Taumata School to develop a revised masterplan for their expanding school.
"But the Ministry's direct negotiations with the builder of the first phase significantly reduced the usual procurement timeframe," Evans said.
Construction of the next stage of development at Golden Sands is expected to start before the end of November, he said.
Major consent applications issued value over $1m in September
26 Golden Sands Drive
New classroom block and associated siteworks
22 Manawa Rd
Construct two blocks of single-level, multi-unit dwellings with attached single garages. Seven dwellings over blocks - B27 and B28
33 Oak Lane
Construction of a two-storey commercial office on site of former Tenancy 4
145 Mortlake Heights
New teaching Block Stage 2: Building envelope, building services, seismic
design for ceilings and internal partitions
1 Kiteroa St
Refurbishment of the existing reception area and learn-to-swim area. Construction of a new changing room annexe adjacent to the existing building. Upgrade to floor, wall and ceiling surfaces throughout
930 Cameron Rd
Internal alterations and refurbishment of Classroom Block C
Source: Tauranga City Council