Approval of the first stage of the University of Tasmania's Inveresk campus was a critical first step in developing a unique place of knowledge, research and culture.
The first stage of the $260 million Inveresk campus, part of UTAS' Northern Transformation project, was approved at the City of Launceston council meeting on Thursday.
Stage one includes the library and student services building, along with a pedestrian bridge to connect Willis Street with the Inveresk site.
UTAS librarian Janette Burke said the approval of the first stage was "incredibly exciting" because it meant the beginning of a new phase for the university's library collection and services.
"This will give us a lot of opportunity for students to connect and collaborate with the community and there is the potential for cross-discipline research," she said.
Ms Burke said the new library building would be the central meeting place for the campus and would be open to the public, to offer a new service model for Launceston.
She said she was excited to see the building emerge and be able to begin showcasing the library's print, digital and cultural collections.
UTAS Launceston-based provost Jane Long described the library as "the beating heart" of any university campus and said this building was a "critical piece" to begin the development of the Inveresk campus.
"This [the approval of the first stage] is the result of unique collaboration and detailed work and is part of the university's broader plan to increase educational attainment in Launceston and the region," she said.
Professor Long said the relocation of the UTAS campus from Newnham to Inveresk was also about bringing the university back into the CBD and ensure it becomes a university that's part of the city.
City of Launceston mayor Albert van Zetten said the approval of the first stage of the campus was a significant step forward for Launceston and its outlying regions.
"It's been quite a journey of us all working together to make this happen," he said.
Nine people attended the council meeting on Thursday to speak for the development, including developer Josef Chromy, who spoke about his passion for a good education.
Cr van Zetten said he could not remember a time since he had been mayor that so many people had turned out in support of a development, with none speaking against.
The development application received 10 representations against, but no one spoke against the proposal at the council meeting.
He said the council was excited that the UTAS development had gotten to this stage.
"I've seen many examples of other cities around the world where the university has moved into the CBD and it has revitalised the area and so we are excited to begin this first phase in Launceston," he said.
Cr van Zetten praised UTAS for its consultation work, and said the relationship between the university and the council had improved as a result.
He said significant work had occurred in the past 12 months to improve the relationship between the council and the university and to make sure everyone was on the same page regarding the campus development.
TIMELINE ON TARGET
Project manager Sam Tucker said the approval of the first stage of the development was a critical one to ensure the project was on time to meet its construction deadlines.
However, not it had been approved, work was underway with the architects working towards a deadline of the Christmas period.
A construction tender will be advertised and awarded in the new year, with the sod turned on construction in July. Construction will be ongoing with the build to be completed in November 2021.
Mr Tucker said the construction and associated jobs for just the first stage of the project was significant.
"This really is just the tip of the iceberg," he said.
He estimated the entire Northern Transformation project, which includes the Inveresk and Burnie campuses, will require 700,000 days of labour. The first stage of Inveresk will require 16,000 days.
TEAMWORK A REWARD
Treasurer Peter Gutwein said the approval of the first stage of the Inveresk development was "a significant step forward for Launceston."
"This [development] will change the face of education in Launceston and the city itself," he said.
"The overall UTAS development will add enormous value to the Inveresk precinct and will build further on the location's reputation as a high quality educational, cultural, sport and recreation location."
Mr Gutwein said the development was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build prosperity in the city.
"Yesterday's approval of the first stage signals the start of a transformation in the way educational experiences are delivered in Northern Tasmania and importantly enhance the vibrancy of Launceston through the connection of student living to the CBD."
Bass MHR Bridget Archer said she was thrilled that the council had approved the relocation.
"This is a key step towards delivering on a significant component of the Morrison government's City Deal, creating an incredibly vibrant city and delivering long-term benefits across a range of sectors within our community."
Tasmanian Senator Wendy Askew welcomed also welcomed the council's approval of the project.
"Bringing the University of Tasmania campus closer to the city will reinvigorate the city, build on our educational attainment levels and help build the economy," Senator Askew said.
"Northern tradespeople and businesses will see the benefits through direct and indirect employment as the campus infrastructure stages are rolled out.
"I look forward to seeing the social, educational and economic transformation that happens in Tasmania's North as a result of the UTAS campus relocation."