Two new university halls in pipeline

The University of Otago’s Te Rangi Hiroa College on Castle St, Dunedin. Photo: Craig Baxter
The University of Otago’s Te Rangi Hiroa College on Castle St, Dunedin. Photo: Craig Baxter
The University of Otago is considering building two new student halls of residence.

It appears one may be a replacement for Te Rangi Hiroa College, on Castle St. The information the university may develop two 350-bed buildings was contained in the Mayor’s Taskforce for Housing interim report to the Dunedin City Council, released earlier this week.

"The [university] will make a presentation to the [Mayor’s Taskforce for Housing] on a new campus master plan at the January 2019 meeting," the taskforce document said.

While a spokeswoman said the university was not ready to announce any accommodation plans, a university capital works feasibility report from September 30 showed the university had put aside $1 million to work on a concept design and full business case for a replacement for Te Rangi Hiroa. It is also understood staff are expecting to have to move out of the college.

In May, it was announced the future of Te Rangi Hiroa College, on Castle St, was uncertain following the announcement part of the new Dunedin Hospital would be built on the same block. Te Rangi Hiroa College which is named after the university’s first Maori medical graduate, is located in the middle of the "Wilson Block" site and caters for about 120 students.

Southern Partnership Group chairman Pete Hodgson has in the past talked about the possibility of residential colleges being used to house workers, if the university was to build new ones.

He said this week while he was aware of the plans for the two colleges, he was yet to approach the university to discuss the matter.

Over the Christmas break, major work on the university’s Hayward College is getting under way: work began again on November 12 after stopping earlier this year, pending a review on the health precinct with the Southern District Health Board. Campus development division director David Perry said the project included seismic strengthening upgrades, upgrading fire systems, redeveloping bedrooms, adding residential assistants’ quarters, and adding 14 more rooms among other changes, some of them geared towards improving access.

Expanding the college’s common area and dining room on the ground floor was also on the cards. Work was expected to be complete early next year. The capital works feasibility report from September 30 said that had been recommenced, and an extra budget of $2.98million had been approved. Alterations to the colleges will cost just under $11 million in total. Vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne said in May the Otago Medical School was "integral" to the university and it was keeping an eye on the progress of the rebuild.

"We are absolutely delighted that the new Dunedin Hospital will be built in close proximity to the university," Prof Hayne said.

In total, the taskforce report said the university was planning  $700 million on capital build projects.

elena.mcphee@odt.co.nz

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