New lease of life for former high school gym
The old Shirley Boys’ High School gym, which is being transformed into a community-based sports and recreational centre, opens its doors early next year.
The North Parade building became empty when Shirley Boys’ High School moved to a new purpose-built school in New Brighton in May 2019. The school was demolished, leaving only the gym behind.
A new school is being built on the site for Pareawa Banks Avenue Primary School, which will use the sports and recreation centre, along with other local schools. Sports clubs and community groups can hire the venue and outdoor pitches in the evenings. The gym, function centre and artificial turf – collectively known as Avon Hub – will be managed by Eastern Community Sportand Recreation Inc (ECSR).
ECSR Community Sport Manager Kate Latimer says it wants as many community organisations as possible to use the centre. When the gym was part of the school it was used by hockey, basketball, volleyball, futsal, and badminton clubs. She says ECSR is looking forward to welcoming these clubs back and plans to add many other activities.
“We are keen to ensure this valuable local asset, which served the high school over several decades, is retained for community use,” Kate says. “We’ve worked alongside the Ministry of Education and Pareawa Banks Avenue Primary School to keep the facility thriving so we can maximise its use by local people.
“Our philosophy with community facilities is to maximise their use by ensuring as many different groups, organisers and individuals as possible can do something with them. We want to open the doors to everyone in Shirley to make that happen and will welcome ideas from anyone about how we can best make it work for the community.”
The function room is suitable for activities such as dance, martial arts, yoga, and Pilates, while other spaces are ideal for other recreation programmes.
With two schools alongside, there are many options for after school and holiday programmes. Offices in the building present the potential to sublet, while a kitchen adjacent to the function room will be useful for social events, so it could easily serve as an ‘after match’ club room for sports teams playing in the gym or on the turf, Kate says.
Catering for the disabled and special needs community is one of its goals, Kate says. Its proximity to the Burwood Spinal Unit means it will be opening its doors to members of this community. Avon Hub will be home to Canterbury Wheelchair Rugby and TIMA, which provides integrated physical opportunities for youth with adapted needs.
Several other local early childhood centres, primary, intermediate, and secondary schools which comprise the Ministry’s Otakaro Kahui Ako cluster will also have access to the facilities.