Polytech expansion 'the future'

Kelly Gay
Kelly Gay
A proposed expansion of the Otago Polytechnic's Central Campus is an example of ''the future of vocational education'', a panel hearing an application for the development has heard.

Central campus manager Kelly Gay told Central Otago District Council hearings panel members yesterday the polytechnic's four-stage, 10-year plan to expand its Bannockburn Rd facilities was ''cutting edge'' and the polytechnic was ''ahead of the curve'' by proposing the expansion.

Mr Gay said a polytechnic having a brewery, for example, as the Central Campus already had, was ''not necessarily what you would expect from education''.

But the mix of study and industry was ''absolutely where education is heading'' and ''the future of vocational education'', he said.

Panel member Martin McPherson asked Mr Gay how the polytechnic's plans fitted in with the Government's proposals to alter the structure of polytechnics.

A merger of the nation's 16 polytechnics into one institute has been suggested.

Mr Gay said the ''Central Otago view'' was that the Cromwell polytechnic ''is here today and is going to be here tomorrow. That's not going to change. And the best way to ensure the protection of that is to have the polytechnic/industry mix''.

The polytechnic has proposed a ''master plan'' for its site that would add a new cooking and hospitality building, incorporating a retail cafe/restaurant open to the public; a retail outlet for the existing brewery; a distillery, comprising a teaching facility and retail outlet; new propagation facilities, including retail sales of plants grown on-site; and other new student learning spaces and administration areas.

It would result in increasing collaboration between the polytechnic and Central Otago industry in the development of courses needed by Central Otago employers, Mr Gay said.

One feature of the proposed development would be the ''food experience'' where visitors could call at the cafe, brewery and retail area and interact with students.

No cost or specific timeframe is given for the project, but the polytechnic is seeking a ''flexible'' 10-year land use consent to allow for the staged expansion of the development.

The panel reserved its decision.

pam.jones@odt.co.nz

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