Councillors have agreed to assess the recreation reserve Marine Park at Sulphur Point to identify a potential site for the establishment of a purpose-built Marine Research and Educational Facility.
“We are committed to keeping the University’s marine research centre here in Tauranga, by working on the best option for the wider public as well as the University and other stakeholders," says Councillor and committee chair Max Mason.
“The assessment will give Council a clear picture of a potential, feasible location prior to final consideration of the long-term lease," says Max.
“When we asked the public earlier this year, the supporting responses identified the opportunity for tertiary education in marine science and engineering along with the benefit to Tauranga as a whole as key to their support of a marine research and educational facility.
“A facility of this calibre will not only be a significant economic development opportunity to the city, it will also provide tertiary education opportunities unique to New Zealand, enabling young people to study courses right here in Tauranga,” Mr Mason said.
Marine Park is a recreation reserve at Sulphur Point and its existing as well as planned activities will be taken into account for the assessment.
The assessment will present feasible locations on Marine Park where the University could potentially develop a new marine research and educational facility.
For the potential development an approximately 5,600m2 site is required.
Councillors’ decision today, will allow council staff and the University to assess and identify a potential site for the marine facility at Marine Park.
Based on the assessment, which will include feedback through a public consultation process, councillors will consider the potential long-term lease of a site to the University.
At the beginning of 2017 the University of Waikato approached Council with the wish to work collaboratively towards establishing an internationally sought after, multidisciplinary research and educational facility close to the city centre at Sulphur Point.
Council identified one of the open space areas at Northern Sulphur Point as the most feasible site for this significant economic development opportunity.
Council carried out formal consultation from Monday, 12 February to Friday, 9 March 2018 regarding the proposal to long-term lease the identified piece of land to the University for the purpose of establishing a new Marine Research and Educational Facility.
The initially proposed 5,600m2 site is located at the entrance to the marina at Sulphur Point. It is mainly undeveloped open space, which is used for marine activities, occasionally events and overflow car and trailer parking and is available for the public to access and use.
The proposed research centre would be distinctive to New Zealand and create the capacity to attract and host national and international collaborations and research programmes.
Significant direct economic benefits to the city are expected through growth in student, researcher and administrative staff numbers; new local and international research; development partnerships and conferences as well as the development of marine products and technologies.
The facility would put Tauranga on the map as a home of world-class research specialised in marine research, biotech and engineering, and tertiary education.
Find out more about the proposed marine facility and Council’s proposal at www.tauranga.govt.nz/marinefacility