Residential developer, Peet Limited, will become the University of Canberra's joint-venture partner for a $1.7 billion housing project in the ACT suburb of Belconnen.
The University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Stephen Parker said the project was part of the University's long-term vision to transform the 120-hectare campus into a "vibrant academic and social hub" including a health precinct, an innovation park, and a "lively" residential community.
"By 2030 our campus will be a leading example of how a modern world-class university transformed its physical surroundings to create an integrated learning community where scholars, students and the public intermingle," he said.
The aim with Peet is to develop 3300 apartments and townhouses over 15-20 years, in a project that is integrated with university living and teaching but is not student housing.
Peet and the University of Canberra signed a conditional agreement for the project on Thursday.
The University will contribute the land, Peet will undertake and finance the development, and the profits will be shared. No financial details were released.
Peet chief executive, Brendan Gore, said the project could be launched in 2017 with the first profits to flow to shareholders in the 2018 financial year.
The University has already agreed many of the planning parameters with the ACT Government, including a staging program with a maximum of 200 dwellings to be released in any one year.
The 20ha site is alongside the new public hospital, close to the Australian Institute of Sport, and near the Belconnen Town Centre, as well as being part of the university campus.
Mr Gore said the project would stress affordability and sustainability.
Professor Parker said that as part of University's Campus Community precinct, it would have a mix of students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the general public living in a "modern, progressive, sustainable, edgy community."
In fact, the project will fund a new professorship in urban design and become almost a laboratory for research into housing, urban design and public health.
"Students studying architecture, landscape architecture, building and construction management, urban planning and other relevant disciplines will be involved in project working, making this probably the largest work-integrated learning project in the history of Australian higher education," said Professor Parker.
"Over the next 10-15 years, staff and students will work with the developers, pursuant to a Collaboration Agreement, to generate an evidence-based new way of urban living."
For Professor Parker, the transformation of the campus is driven by the change in learning.
"There is a transition of knowledge from the traditional lecture theatre to the cloud and from the textbook to the app," he said. "There is a real risk that campuses will become empty spaces as students spend less time on them, instead connecting via the comfort of their own home or from halfway across the world."
Peet already has an interest in Canberra through subsidiary CIC Australia which has a major housing project at Googong.
Source: The Australian Financial Review
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