$60m for polytech upgrade

Otago Polytechnic chief operating officer Philip Cullen in the polytechnic’s hub building, which...
Otago Polytechnic chief operating officer Philip Cullen in the polytechnic’s hub building, which has set the standard for its planned overhaul of its Dunedin campus. Photo: Gerard O'Brien.
Otago Polytechnic is preparing for a $60 million overhaul of its campus set to begin next year.

If approved by the polytechnic council, its "campus development plan" would involve constructing two or three significant new buildings and upgrading existing buildings to the same standard.

Chief executive Phil Ker said the exciting plan would allow for growth at the polytechnic and bring some of its ageing infrastructure into the 21st century.

"The polytechnic’s existing building stock, with the exception of the hub and the administration building, is a good 30 years old.

"It was built for a time and the world’s moved on," Mr Ker said.

The plan would cost about $60 million and take five or six years to complete.

Some of the growth the plan would allow for was already "in the bag" after it made agreements with institutions in China and Japan  resulting in about 250 foreign students coming to study at the polytechnic in both 2019 and 2020.

The new and overhauled buildings would be purpose-built for today’s style of learning, matching the standard set by its student hub,  which was  completed last year.

"If we want to be attractive to learners not just from our own region, but nationally and internationally, we need to have really good facilities."

The plan was also to consolidate more of its activity on its main Forth St site, which would save it money by allowing it to move out of some of the buildings it rented around the city.

This included the former Aoraki Polytechnic site in Cumberland St, which it took over in 2016, and the Anzac Ave site it used for its carpentry and engineering.

Prudent financial management and running surpluses had allowed the polytechnic to get into a situation were such a significant building programme was possible, Mr Ker said.

Chief operating officer Philip Cullen said the polytechnic had called for tenders to research and plan what needed to be done and the sequence in which the work should be carried out. Construction of the first project would begin next year, but a decision was yet to be made on what that project would be. The building boom in the student quarter comes as as the polytechnic builds its $20 million student accommodation village amd the University of Otago works on projects worth more than $230 million.

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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