School to be moved

2013-06-05 00:00

M.L. SULTAN Secondary School is to be relocated to Manor. The move allays fears that the school would be left stranded in a shopping centre’s parking lot — hardly an environment conducive to learning and teaching.

The school’s other disadvantage in terms of noise levels is that it is flanked by the N3 on the one side and the Chota Motala interchange on the other.

Headmaster Willie Naidoo confirmed the move. He said the school will be relocated to vacant land at the corner of Echo and Manor roads. He expects the new buildings to be ready by January 2015.

According to Naidoo, there were ongoing talks involving the departments of Education and Public Works; the developer, Andrew Barnes; the School Governing Body (SGB); as well as the municipality. He said the plan was for a land exchange to take place. “Barnes owns the Manor site and he has agreed in principle to build a school on the site and offer this in exchange for the current school property in Chota Motala Road,” Naidoo said.

Barnes told The Witness that the exchange was currently being negotiated. He would not be drawn, at this stage, on his development plans for the existing school.

Education Department spokesperson Sihle Mlotsha confirmed that negotiations were under way.

Msunduzi town planner Atkins Khoali told the Economic Development Portfolio Committee (EDPC) last week that the relocation of the school was placed back on the agenda by the School Governing Body. He said the school complained that the noise from the construction site, combined with traffic noise, was making it impossible to teach. There were also road traffic and safety issues for pupils as there was difficulty gaining access to the school.

Khoali told the EDP committee that after the meeting a motivation was sent to the Education Department to prioritise the relocation of the school. As a result of that a number of urgent meetings have been held. He said the Education Department had brought the Public Works Department on board and discussions were well in hand to facilitate the relocation. Khoali said the Manor site had been re-zoned for educational purposes a long time ago. What needed to be done now was the finalisation of the building plan, which will be submitted to the municipality shortly for approval.

According to Khoali, the municipality will, through the plan approval process, ensure that Shop­rite takes the necessary steps to protect the safety of pupils and staff. Access points to the construction site will be renegotiated and measures put in place to reduce noise and dust levels during construction, he said.

Khoali said the new site for the school was 1,8 hectares in size and will be next to the football field, which will still be retained as open space. He added that the property where the school currently stands will become part of the shopping complex. “When the land was originally bought, the school site was part of the deal,” he added.

Plans to move M.L. sultan not new

ACCORDING to M.L. Sultan School head Willie Naidoo, plans to move the school were first mooted more than 20 years ago. Shortly before 1994 the land around the school was acquired by company Stocks and Stocks to build a regional shopping centre. “This was long before the Liberty Midlands Mall was built,” Naidoo said.

Initially, the plan was to relocate the school to Mountain Rise, but the School Governing Body objected as it would have meant pupils taking two buses to get to the new school. The Manor site was offered and was accepted. The developer was to build a new school in exchange for the old. Plans for the building were drawn up at that time.

However, Stocks and Stocks’s property division went down during a business slump and the construction of a regional shopping centre was put on hold. In the meantime, the Liberty Mall was built and the Pietermaritzburg economy at the time could not sustain two regional shopping centres. Nothing happened for a number of years until Shoprite bought the land behind the school to build a Checkers Hyper store.

M.L. Sultan School turned 50 last year. It was built as a technical high school, where apprentices could be trained. In the 1960s, factory workers from the local leather industry contributed sixpence each towards the building of the school.

Naidoo said M.L Sultan currently offered a wide range of academic subjects, including technical courses.

It catered for pupils from 45 areas in and around Pietermaritzburg.

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