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Wellington Mayoral candidate Jo Coughlan announced last week that if elected she would try to acquire Karori Campus as a “strategic” council asset.
Coughlan sees the acquisition of Karori Campus as a “once in a 30 year opportunity,” and a way for the Wellington City Council (WCC) to have more involvement in investment projects in suburban areas of the city.
As Chairperson for the Economic Growth and Arts Committee for the WCC, Coughlan said Karori Campus would be an important commercial asset, and the site is “likely to become more valuable over time.”
Coughlan suggested Karori Campus would also be a cultural asset to WCC, as the recreational and community facilities on the campus site will be preserved and remain accessible to the community.
“We need to ensure there is fit-for-purpose social and sporting infrastructure across the city, and we need to ensure that families in the western suburbs are not forgotten.”
Acquiring Karori Campus is one component of Coughlan’s long-term campaign plan to strengthen Wellington’s infrastructure, particularly in the city’s suburban areas.
Nicola Young, another mayoral candidate, told Salient that she agreed with Coughlan’s emphasis on the community centres and that it is “imperative that most of the sports facilities at the Karori Campus are retained for community use.”
However Young believes that it would be best to split up the various land titles, “then the Council could acquire the bits it wants for community amenities and VUW could sell the building to someone who can either repurpose it or demolish it and build housing.”
VUWSA Welfare Vice President Rory Lenihan-Ikin said the university needs to tread carefully around the matter, “Karori families deserve to keep these much loved facilities, however if the campus is deemed surplus to the university’s education requirements, it is City Council’s role to save the fields and netball courts, not the university’s responsibility to keep it open.”
He added that if it the campus remains open but unused, this would be a “massive burden on students who are paying for the campus through their fees.”
The university is expected to reach a decision on Karori Campus by October.