University unveils $125m plans

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 09:54 01/07/2013

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The University of Canterbury has revealed ambitious development plans despite being upfront about the fact it does not have the money to fulfil its wish-list.

Vice-chancellor Rod Carr says there is ''no guarantee'' that planned developments, worth more than $125 million, will go ahead as they would need to be funded from ''external sources''.

In an email sent out to residents living near the campus Carr said plans included a research and innovation precinct, sports and recreation facilities, an extension of university hall Julius Bishop, an overhaul of some housing stock, an archives facility and the development of Dovedale campus.

''We expect that if they proceed, most of the developments would have some element of shared use, with the expectation that UC would use a relatively small area,'' Carr said in the email sent out last week.

''Tenants could include Crown entities and others with an interest in being located close to the University.''

He said there was ''no immediate impact on stuff'' currently occupying buildings where these developments were proposed and there would be '' ample time for discussion about implications for individual groups''.

Carr said the university was looking for expressions of interest from potential investors.

Plans were part of the university's long-term recovery and despite ''not [being] core to the delivery of teaching or research programmes'' they would add to the ''broader student experience'', he said.

Chairperson of the Ilam and Upper Riccarton Residents' Association Jane Tyler-Gordon said initial discussions with residents had not revealed any ''major objections''.

''The university needs to survive and we want them to survive,'' she said.

About 40 residents met with university officials last week to discuss the plans and Tyler-Gordon said the main concern was the increase in student accommodation.

''Maybe the positioning of certain things could be juggled a bit but...I think it's going to take a long time to happen because they need money and they need to find developers who want to go along with them.''

A university spokesman said it would be unlikely the university would be making any further comments on the plans at this stage.

Six developments are detailed:

● Research and innovation precinct
- To be located on the northern boundary near the engineering and science campus
- Four research clusters arranged to ''best promote collegiality''

● Archives development
- To be located on the corner of Clyde and Arts Roads
- Designed in conjunction with Archives New Zealand who will co-tenant the facility

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● Sports and recreation centre
- Will include sports courts, fitness centre, function centre, student association offices, clubrooms and child care facility
- Opportunities to ''integrate commercial partners alongside UC users'' would ensure the utilisation of the development was maximised

● Bishop Julius Hall
- New accommodation wing to be built providing 120 room as well as new dining hall and kitchen
- Located on the southern boundary of the existing site using vacant land bordering Homestead Lane

● Medium density housing
- Intention is to remove existing housing stock on the university-owned land to create a ''modern housing development''
- There will be a variety of one and two-bedroom apartments as well as three and four-bedroom apartments

● Dovedale development
- UC intends to relocate the College of Education to the main campus and is ''now evaluating commercial opportunities for the site''.
- Could provide commercial research and office space

- The Press

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