Rolleston fulfilling its potential

Columns
Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Last weekend it was great to be involved in the Rolleston 150th celebrations and to see the way the community got involved and enjoyed the various activities that took place.

Rolleston’s origins date back to 1866 when the Christchurch to Rolleston railway line was opened as part of the “Great Southern Railway”, which would link Christchurch with Rakaia and then eventually Timaru and Dunedin.

By the early 1900s, as well as a railway station, Rolleston boasted a hotel, a school and a blacksmith's shop with public saleyards to service the population of under 100.

Fast forward to today and Rolleston’s population has grown rapidly during the past 15 years from 1,974 in 2001 to 9,555 at the 2013 census. The current estimate is around 14,000.

This sudden expansion, particularly with a lot of families with school-aged children moving into the area, has meant significant recent investment by the Government in new schools. When I became the local MP in 2008, Rolleston School was the only primary school.  Now Rolleston’s fifth primary school, Lemonwood Grove School, is preparing to open in February, as is Rolleston’s first secondary school, Rolleston College.

Rolleston’s growth in recent times has given it the advantage of being able to be one of the first “fully-fibred” towns (along with Lincoln) in New Zealand where all businesses, schools and residents have access to ultra-fast broadband.

To help keep up with the demand for affordable housing and land in Selwyn, especially in Rolleston, the Government signed a Housing Accord with the Selwyn District Council in December last year, at the request of the Council. The accord allows the Council to recommend Special Housing Areas to the Minister for Building and Housing and allow these developments to be fast-tracked through the consenting process to provide additional housing supply.

As well as being in demand for residential housing, Rolleston is fast becoming an important industrial and logistics hub for the wider region and is ideally located to fulfil this role. Developments such as i-Zone, I-Port, Midland Port and MetroPort are all contributing to Rolleston’s rapid growth as a sought after location for businesses in many sectors. This only looks set to continue as the Central Plains Water scheme will transform local agricultural productivity and Rolleston will be in an ideal position to cater for the resulting increase in freight requirements, given its strategic position next to the railway and State Highway 1.

Rolleston is certainly coming of age and fulfilling the potential that the early pioneers believed it had.