1531712060427 - Erskine College demolition underway as massive development begins

Erskine College demolition underway as massive development begins

​ The walls are coming down at​ Erskine College, the treasured Catholic school in Island Bay, to make way for 96 townhouses.

The Wellington Company started demolition of the school’s gymnasium last week.

Development manager Earl Hope-Pearson said the feeling was positive as work was able to begin.

“After 18 years of ownership from the Wellington Company, and various court cases, we’re finally working.”

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About two weeks ago, panels started to go up in the hockey field for  “The Heights”, the name they were using to describe the townhouses, he said.

Parts of the historic chapel, which is yet to be strengthened, had been protected from construction.

“Heritage items have been taken out of the chapel and put in to a secret location so that they’re protected.”

Strengthening of the chapel was expected to start in August or September, he said.

The overall design had a number of updates this year and they would be salvaging some materials from the main building.

“We’ve got a far better and clarified design around the podium construction in front of the main building, to create better access to the chapel and to vehicles and pedestrians,” Hope-Pearson said.


Work was expected to start last year, but plans were put on hold when the Save Erskine College Trust refused consent to demolish or remove heritage items.

“We’ve got people emailing us all the time asking when they can move in to their new homes.”

The development has been predicted by its developers to boost Island Bay’s economy.

The chapel, which has been described as having one of the finest neo-Gothic interiors in New Zealand, is being restored at a cost of $7 million.

It will be used for funerals, weddings and other functions.

The eventual development of the site would accommodate about 250 people.

Erskine College was built in 1906 by the Society of the Sacred Heart and was a Catholic girls’ boarding school until 1985.

It is named after Mother Janet Erskine Stuart, the fifth Superior General of the society.

The Wellington Company has owned the site since 2000, and the development is due to be completed in 2020.

The project has been predicted to cost $30m, but Hope-Pearson did not have the updated expected total cost of the development.