THE University of New England (UNE) yesterday welcomed the decision by the Joint Regional Planning Panel to approve the development of a new residential college for the university part of a project estimated at about $17 million.
Chief operating officer David Cushway said the decision allowed the university to proceed with construction in the first stage of a long-term college redevelopment.
The approval gives the go ahead for the construction of four two-storey residential college buildings providing 222 new student rooms, including 10 rooms specifically designed for students with a disability. Additional car parking will be provided for 98 cars.
Mr Cushway said UNE aims to be the country’s pre-eminent collegiate university and to do that “we need modern infrastructure and greater student accommodation options”.
“In line with the requirements of a modern university student, each wing will also include communal kitchen facilities and rooms as part of UNE’s focus on building the on-campus student experience,” he said.
“Particularly exciting is the design of one floor and 10 student rooms, specifically to accommodate people with disabilities.”
A separate building will house a bike store and workshop as an important extension of the university’s environmental sustainability policy, encouraging university students to use pedal power in preference to motor vehicles.
Tenders for the development have been advertised, with responses to be considered in March.
The chairman of the northern regional panel Garry West said the proposed development was considered to be compliant with all applicable statutory planning provisions.
“The proposed development is designed to cater for the needs of current students at the university, especially international students,” he said.
“The proposal represents a major investment in education infrastructure for Armidale and the region, and the continued option for students to study on campus greatly benefits the local economy.”
The Northern Joint Region Planning Panel is the determining authority for this development application as the proposal is a Crown development with a capital investment value of more than $5 million.