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Plans are being drawn up for a multipurpose parish centre and sporting complex next to Roncalli College’s Ashby Block on the college’s eastern boundary.

The $2million-$2.5million facility would give the college additional covered sports areas, more toilets, changing facilities and meeting rooms and replace the ageing parish centre at the end of Napier St.

Roncalli College and the parish originally were planning separate projects but, earlier this year, the parish agreed to a proposal to join forces and build one facility.

Plans and costings are being prepared, the parish and school have received approval in principle from the Christchurch Diocese and Roncalli College is awaiting approval from the Ministry of Education before the project can proceed.

College board of trustees chairwoman Bridget Duff said the school had identified a need for a large covered area to take pressure off the gymnasium, which sometimes housed three or four phys ed classes at a time, as well as additional toilet and changing facilities and a covered area where pupils could gather.

Mrs Duff said if the facility was approved, it would be the most significant project for Roncalli College since the gymnasium was built 20 years ago.

Holy Families Parish Council chairman Gary Shand said a new parish centre for the Sacred Heart Basilica was long overdue.

The existing centre – originally a squash court building – was not ideal.

Mr Shand said it was perhaps fortunate plans to replace the centre had not progressed earlier.

“In some ways it has worked out well. We could have just forged ahead, so it’s a blessing in some ways. Now it will be one facility.”

Mr Shand said fundraising for the facility would be required and the school and parish would work together.

“We had to borrow quite a bit to do St Thomas’s, and someone said to me, it’s a great community thing for people when you start raising money, that if you’re not doing things like that, you’re not building a community. That’s when you get to know people and have a lot of fun.

“And this will be the same.”

Mr Shand said both the church and school had had to wait at times to get to this point, so he was hoping the development would progress reasonably quickly.

“With a bit of luck, it could happen early to mid next year. I would be disappointed if we don’t have it up and running next year.”