New fence as Hanley's Farm preschool partially opens

by Lauren Pattemore - May 09, 2023

A new Queenstown early childhood education centre has confirmed it is now able to partially open after delays.

On Monday (May 8), the Ministry of Education approved the opening of two classrooms at BestStart Hanley’s Farm, accommodating 60 preschoolers.

The centre is located on Spur Ridge Rise in the growing subdivision, across the road from an ongoing construction site.

BestStart deputy chief executive Fiona Hughes says staff are now welcoming the first of the enrolled children.

Crux reported the centre's planned April opening had been delayed by a compliance issue related to its boundary fence, leaving many local families with children enrolled in the lurch.

A pool fence was initially installed around the facility, however the ministry decided the fence did not block out enough construction noise, and thus did not meet noise-barrier guidelines, Ms Hughes told Crux on April 18.

Out with the new and in with the newer. The original fence was a no-go for ministry requirements.

Ms Hughes told Crux today the daycare had liaised with the ministry for a reduced opening following this feedback.

“A couple of the rooms are far enough away from the road to comply with the Ministry of Education's noise guidelines.”

The old fence has now been taken down, and the new fence completed last week - ahead of schedule.

“We are now undertaking monitoring in the playground so we can provide the Ministry of Education with an updated acoustics report and we’re confident it will meet their requirements.”

Ms Hughes says BestStart is aware of the challenge this delay placed on parents.

After previous complaints from parents that the centre had not properly communicated with staff, parents received an update from the centre within 48 hours of the original Crux news story.

Further communication was sent out surrounding the partial opening.

“We have corresponded with our Hanley’s Farm families yesterday after our notice came in very late on Friday afternoon,” Ms Hughes says.

“We had already begun contacting parents prior to the formal communication going out so that we could make these spaces available as soon as possible.”

In April, Ms Hughes told Crux it would be mid-June before a full opening was available. She did not disclose an updated timeframe for opening.

One parent who spoke to Crux had considered flying their parents – based in South Africa – to provide childcare during the potential nine-week delay, thinking it would be cheaper than getting at-home babysitters for this period.

In total, BestStart had received enquires from 114 families about enrolling their children at the centre.

Queenstown’s already-opened childcare centres are stretched to accommodate children and have long waitlists.

Manager of Queenstown Preschool and Nursery Jasmine Singer told Crux in April the demand for childcare in Queenstown is in the “same category” as the demand for housing.

She said it was "really heartbreaking" to turn families away.

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