Carr rejects moving university

23:18, May 15 2011

Christchurch's inner city could become a hub for medical research, sport and recreation, Canterbury University Vice-Chancellor Rod Carr says.

Carr, responding to public calls to relocate the university campus to the inner city, said moving the campus to infuse the area with vitality was not the answer.

However, the university would be interested in having a medical research centre in the central city, he said.

"The university would welcome the opportunity to support the creation of a world-leading research and teaching medical complex to support the million people who live in the South Island," Carr said.

A centre of applied medicine accommodating a postgraduate medical school, the training of allied medical professionals and the development of advanced applied medical technologies should be created, he said.

Sport and recreation facilities could be relocated and health sciences could also be moved.

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"[The inner city] may in the future be home to medical, recreational and sporting facilities the city and region could become renowned for, and where relevant research and teaching is co-located and employees and students choose to live," he said.

"That vision does not require the university to relocate, but merely to be convinced, as it reaches out, that there is a real opportunity to be grasped."

The university campus should not "up sticks and head east" because:

It has plenty of space at its present site.

The buildings did not fall down or suffer significant structural damage in the earthquakes.

The buildings assessed pre-earthquake were found to be of above-average quality.

The focus should be on attracting 5000 more students to Christchurch.

With the university fully operational, a move would be an enormous distraction.

Parker welcomed the idea of an educational "hub" in the central city, but his "dream view" would include the entire university.

Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said it was ironic some people were calling for the university to move to the central city, after it had unsuccessfully tried to shift the music school to the Arts Centre. That proposal was rejected last year.

"The university is firmly established where it is.

"It needs to rebuild and recover from where it is, and take out of the earthquake whatever it can to improve its position long term."

There would be other opportunities for activities to be clustered and centralised in a new-look central city, he said.

"The rationale is to inject population and life, but we are going to do that. The city will be a place for people to live and play and work in low-profile buildings.

The Press