University approves $650 million worth of long-term development plans

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The University of Otago Council has approved a list of building developments with an approximate value of $650 million that will further cement the University as a leading force in teaching, learning and research within New Zealand.

The list and information about the projects was presented at the Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne’s staff forum recently.

University chief operating officer John Patrick revealed details of the projects listed on the University’s Priority Development Plan which will be evaluated for construction progressively over the next 15 years.

The plan includes the following projects (in order of priority):

A number of health and safety projects are also included on the plan. These have a high priority and include the following:

The plan also includes reference to a number of major maintenance projects, such as refurbishment of buildings in the historic precinct, including the Clocktower.

“The intention of the Priority Development Plan is to show the university community, the public and contractors, what we will be looking at, and focusing on, over the medium term when it comes to our built environments,” Professor Hayne says.

“We want to improve what is already a first-class experience for students, for teachers and for researchers, and we want the campus to be enjoyed by the communities in which we live.

“Many of these projects were signalled in the Campus Master Plan released in 2010. This was a strategic and guiding vision of how the university should be developed in coming decades across all its three campuses, and this plan follows the guiding principles in that strategic document,” she says.

Professor Hayne says the council agreed to the priority development plan and projects within it “in principle”. However, the plan is a living document and other projects may yet be added or removed as situations and needs change.

Mr Patrick says the estimated cost of the projects in the plan came to $649.9 million. This figure includes projects that have already been approved or are under construction, such as the redevelopment of St David II for the Department of Applied Science, new space for food science in the Gregory Building, and the university’s share of the costs of the enhancement of the Clocktower precinct as part of the Leith Flood Protection Scheme.

“While we do have cost estimates for each project on the plan, we do not intend to disclose these because some projects have not been sufficiently defined and the costs are commercially sensitive.”

Mr Patrick adds that the Priority Development Plan has been prepared with the intention that it is funded without resorting to large-scale borrowing.
“Currently the university does not use debt to fund capital projects but, looking ahead, may want to do this,” Mr Patrick says.

“Funding decisions will be made as we progress planning for these projects,” he says.

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