The University of Tasmania (UTAS) will complete its $600-million move from Sandy Bay into central Hobart by 2030 and has announced plans for the Sandy Bay campus to be converted into housing.
Releasing the university's southern campus draft masterplan on Monday, vice-chancellor Rufus Black said there would be five "precincts" that would make up the new city campus:
- West End (at the former site of the K&D warehouse)
- Midtown (the former Websters car park) the "campus heart", including sciences, humanities, social sciences, law, business and economics, the University College, library, a student centre and administration
- The Domain, the university's historic home, including shared spaces for the university and the wider community and nursing, psychology and pharmacy
- A medical precinct, including the current Medical School, Menzies Research Institute and a new allied health clinic
- Wapping - which already includes the Art School on Hunter Street, and The Hedberg - will also include education.
Professor Black said the move to the city was about "bringing the whole university together in a single place to create a university that is accessible to the whole community".
"[It will] enable us to work much more closely with the community and create the kind of quality of facilities that today's community and staff and students need for the future," he said.
"The university's quite substantially in the city . more than a third of our staff and students already work there, it's actually heading towards 40 per cent."
Professor Black said the university had acquired all of the buildings it needed to realise the plan, but new facilities would be built in the "midtown" precinct.
He said the new campus would have a focus on sustainability, with small parks and green spaces, and would be accessible for the wider community.
What happens to Sandy Bay?
Professor Black said the Sandy Bay campus, which has been home to the University of Tasmania since the early 1960s, would be turned into a "sustainable micro-suburb".
"We'd love to see Sandy Bay evolve over time to a truly sustainable micro-suburb that provides the full range of housing options that Hobart obviously very urgently needs [and] the mix of retail and other spaces that will enhance this whole area," he said.
"The university will aim to retain underlying ownership of those lands over the long run so that we can be the stewards of its development."
Professor Black said the bushland that is part of the campus would be preserved, and the university would continue to use the sporting facilities.
Student accommodation at the Sandy Bay campus, John Fisher and Christ colleges, would remain, he said.
"This [can] be a real model of what an inclusive, sustainable suburb can look like . from first home occupiers to people on low incomes to people on good incomes living together in one place," he said.
In December 2019, the university lost a battle to re-zone the upper part of the Sandy Bay campus, but Professor Black said he was confident this would happen once the university's master plan for the site was complete.
Unless the land is rezoned, it can only be used for residential and retail uses if they are related to providing services to students and staff.
Professor Black said the university would encourage and support its staff and students to make sustainable transport choices. He said the university would also work with the Hobart City Council and State Government to improve public transport infrastructure, including:
- A northern suburbs transit corridor
- New bike and pedestrian pathways on the Tasman Bridge
- A River Derwent ferry service
- A bicycle path from Sandy Bay to the city centre
A 'city-centric campus'
In 2019, the university said it would pursue a "city-centric campus" in central Hobart, with its centre being the former Webster building on the corner of Argyle and Melville streets.
For several years, it has been expanding its property portfolio in the city centre.
In 2019, the university took possession of the former Fountainside Hotel, which was recently used by the State Government as a quarantine hotel, and bought the former Forestry Tasmania building in Melville Street.
Earlier this month, a university spokesman confirmed UTAS had bought 80 Brisbane Street - which backs on to the Forestry building - for $8.99 million.
The university's Menzies Institute for Medical Research and the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies and creative arts are established in the city.
In 2019 the university agreed to pay the City of Hobart the equivalent of rates on its recently acquired CBD properties.
The payment equalled $350,000 in the first year of the agreement.
Professor Black said the timing was right for the university's move.
"It's a very good time for us to be doing it because, with interest rates as low as they are, we are actually able to fund this out of the normal ways in which we fund our normal ongoing building programs," he said.