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University on the way to meet challenges

Wednesday 28 September 2016 8:37am

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University of Otago and Dunedin city.

The University is buoyed by the response to pleas for its vital relationships with Dunedin Hospital and the Otago Museum to be allowed to stay fluid, and for the campus to retains its flexibility to house shops and business spin-offs.

University Property Services Division Resource Planner/Policy Advisor Murray Brass says a city council planner agreed yesterday that no barriers should be imposed on relationships between the University, hospital and Otago Museum.

The hospital and museum are no longer in the campus zone under the proposed Second Generation District Plan. Instead they are separate Major Facilities Zones, so the University wanted to make sure its frequent interactions with them did not become more complex.

The city council planner recommended that campus, museum and hospital activities be permitted across all three zones, which would remove any doubt about the relationships remaining fluid.

Mr Brass was also concerned about the proposed plan’s effect on shops and the University’s spin-off businesses that are on the campus.

The proposed plan clusters businesses and shops into zones, known as “centres”, to avoid sparking vacancies in Dunedin’s commercial “centres.” The University is not recognised as a centre; it is a campus zone.

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Murray Brass.

But as part of the University’s commitment to making an economic contribution - locally, nationally and globally - some firms are based on the campus because they use University research, specialised equipment or expertise, while shops and cafes are needed on campus for staff and students.

Mr Brass says the council planner agreed with the need to provide for shops and businesses on campus but wants to make sure the wording definitely does not allow general commercial activity.

The hearings panel asked council staff, the University and the Otago Polytechnic to work together to produce wording they could all agreed on, then present it to the panel.

Other proposals in the plan that the University has been debating include:

  • The Portobello Marine Laboratory and New Zealand Marine Studies Centre being zoned rural, so the University would have to seek consent for any training, education, campus activities, and new developments.
  • The Hocken Collection research library, historical archive and art gallery building being zoned in a way that does not cover all its activities; including conferences, functions, exhibitions, and offices.
  • Changing the zone containing Student Health and the triangle of open space between Walsh Street and Malcolm Street from a campus zone to a “centre”, which would divide the University campus and restrict future development there.

Mr Brass says the planner agreed in principle that the Portobello Marine Laboratory and New Zealand Marine Studies Centre needed a special zone but did not comment on the other issues yesterday, on the grounds they are not part of the proposed campus zone; they are in other zones.

“This was disappointing, but I encouraged the Panel to seek more feedback as these areas are fundamental to how the campus zone works so they need to be considered together.”

For several years, the council has been working on a review of the District Plan, which controls what people can do on their land and how it can be developed.

A council spokesman says the panel is hearing from submitters until mid-way through next year and its decisions will be released when all or a substantial number of the hearings have been held, because of the overlap between topics and the integrated nature of the plan.