Nearly 2000 intermediate and secondary students are travelling across town every day from Welcome Bay and Ohauiti to reach school.

Their contribution to Tauranga's worsening traffic congestion in the morning rush has been given a new focus in a report to the city council last week.

Welcome Bay councillor Bill Grainger wants to stop the daily exodus of students by the construction of a combined intermediate and secondary school in the area.

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A planning study for Welcome Bay and Ohauiti has earmarked 231ha for future housing and given added impetus to Grainger's call for a new school.

But Grainger insisted there would be no development until roading issues had been sorted out, including the four-laning of Turret Rd and 15th Ave.

''I am adamant about that.''

Councillors were this week updated on progress on the planning report. They were shown seven new greenfield areas around the fringes of Welcome Bay and Ohauiti with the potential for future subdivisions.

Counting the 109ha of multiple-owned Maori land, the total area of 231ha could support 3465 new houses - or about 9000 residents.

The report by policy planner Sam Hurley highlighted the unique tenure of Maori land and the hurdles before residential development could occur. Deducting the harder-to-develop Maori land left 122ha supporting a potential 1830 houses - or about 4750 residents.

However, a lot more work remained to be done on the plan before the council drilled down to how many new homes could be built on these rural blocks. It included talking to stakeholders, assessing infrastructure requirements and assessing retail and commercial requirements.

Hurley said the update was ''strictly indicative of a desktop study, without any input from infrastructure teams or landowners''.

The report quoted the Ministry of Education as saying that 1978 intermediate and college-aged students travelled out of the area to school in other parts of the city. It included students from Maungatapu, Hairini and Windermere.

Grainger said the ministry's figures, plus additional pressure from the planned greenfield developments, showed how much this area of Tauranga needed its own intermediate and secondary school.

He opposed development of the land until transport issues were sorted, saying the difference in how well traffic flowed during school holidays underlined his campaign for a return to free school buses and finding a site to build a supermarket in Welcome Bay.

Grainger was annoyed at how progress on the supermarket was being held back by the study. He was relieved to be told by staff on Tuesday that it did not have to be part of the study.

''It all comes down to traffic. People don't have to travel far if there is a supermarket on their back door. This side of town desperately needs a supermarket - I want to get something moving again.''

Katrina Casey from the Ministry of Education said the ministry had no specific plans to build a new intermediate/college in the area but it was continually monitoring Tauranga's population growth and school-age population projections.

''We know there is roll growth pressure in the Tauranga secondary schools. However, a whole new secondary school is a major investment, and so we need to get it right.''

If it was assessed that a new secondary school was needed, the site acquisition process would be based on population data and factors such as transport and road safety, she said.

The Welcome Bay and Ohauiti areas were currently in the enrolment zones for Tauranga Intermediate, Tauranga Boys College and Tauranga Girls College.

Factors that help determine decisions for new schools
- Population projections
- Capacity of existing schools
- Planned housing developments
- Enrolment data
- Whether existing schools enrol out-of-zone students
Source: Ministry of Education