Plan set out for Sports Academy

Final planning for the New Zealand Academy of Sport, South Island, to move to the Forsyth Barr Stadium site in Dunedin could begin within weeks, and building could start soon after next year's Rugby World Cup.

While the proposal was still in a feasibility stage, academy chief executive Kereyn Smith said yesterday the organisation hoped for a two-storey building at the northeast corner of the stadium, either connected or with easy access to the stadium.

The $3.8 million project hinges on a resource consent decision for demolition of three bays of the former art gallery at Logan Park, a decision that could be announced this week.

Dunedin City councillor Paul Hudson said early plans for the move were "sitting there, waiting" for the decision.

On May 31, the council approved a plan to develop facilities for the academy at the stadium site.

Ms Smith, who is on the Highlanders board and is a trustee of the Carisbrook Stadium Trust, said at the time the academy had conceptual plans for a building of about 1200sq m at the northeast corner of the stadium.

From there, it would be able to use the free areas at the east end of the stadium, and the field itself, for the more than 20 codes and 250 athletes it worked with, making the roofed stadium a high-performance hub.

She said yesterday initial thinking was for a gymnasium and weights area on the ground floor, and services on the first floor.

There was not "a whole heap" of extra space, and the footprint available was challenging, but the academy hoped the proposal would allow it to make use of the northeast stand at the stadium.

The city agreed to provide the academy with a headquarters when Dunedin was picked as its South Island home.

The academy's move from its home at the former art gallery has been on the agenda since 2005, under the council's $15.7 million Logan Park redevelopment plan.

The money to pay for it would come from that budget.

The redevelopment was shelved while the stadium was developed, but now it was going ahead, the working party dealing with it had been back working on the issue for the last two months, Cr Hudson said.

The working party had met users of Logan Park to get their input on the redevelopment.

The Otago Rugby Football Union last week moved from its training base in the former art gallery to a nearby prefabricated building, but the academy was expected to stay until a new base had been completed.

"We're targeting a move for the academy to start immediately after the world cup," Cr Hudson said.

A final decision on the move required discussion with the Carisbrook Stadium Trust and Dunedin Venues Management Ltd, as those organisations were in charge of the stadium.

Final designs for any building, and fundraising, would begin soon after the resource consent decision, and appeal period, if the demolition was approved.

A report on the issue would go to the council community development committee, with its timing also depending on the consent decision, Cr Hudson said.

Ms Smith said the academy hoped to be able to stay in the building while demolition work was under way.

The resource consent committee of commissioners Allan Cubitt (chairman), David Benson-Pope and Cr Colin Weatherall will meet today, after earlier requesting additional information on how the building would look if the three bays earmarked for demolition were removed.

A decision is expected after that.

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