26 March 2021

Ambitious plan for UC includes light rail and major sports hub

| Michael Weaver
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Minister Tara Cheyne, University of Canberra vice-chancellor Professor Paddy Nixon, and University of Canberra chancellor Professor Thomas Calma AO

Assistant Minister for Economic Development Tara Cheyne, University of Canberra vice-chancellor Professor Paddy Nixon and University of Canberra chancellor Professor Thomas Calma during the launch of the university’s master plan. Photo: Rohan Thomson, Pew Pew Studio.

In the wake of budget cuts at the Australian National University, the University of Canberra has unveiled an audacious master plan for the next 20 years that includes a light rail line through the campus and a sports hub and indoor arena for regional sporting events.

The as-yet uncosted plan estimates a $5 billion investment in stages across all areas of the university and the community that better connects the university’s hubs with a number of services for people in Belconnen and the Canberra region, including a light rail line linking the city and CIT to the Belconnen town centre, via the university.

A sports precinct includes plans for a new arena, multi-court sports centre and continuation of high-performance sport and associated research that would cement the University of Canberra as the sports university of Australia.

The university’s other hubs such as health, aged care, early learning, retail and housing will deliver a number of on-campus services accessible to the Belconnen and wider Canberra region.

An artist's impression of the light rail station at the University of Canberra

An artist’s impression of the light rail station at the campus. Photo: Supplied.

University of Canberra vice-chancellor Professor Paddy Nixon said the University has embarked on an ambitious program to rethink and challenge the role of a university campus.

He said the university would lobby the ACT Government as well as business and industry partners to invest in commercial, retail and hospitality projects that he said would begin in the next 12 to 18 months.

This included building on the university’s 118 hectares, much of which is not developed. Funds from those investments would be put back into the university’s core learning and research functions.

Retail, hospitality and start-up business hub spaces would also be integrated throughout the campus.

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“We are fortunate to be in a position to invest in and support the economic growth of Canberra,” Professor Nixon said.

“The master plan will see UC become better connected to Belconnen and Bruce with a proposed alignment for future light rail service travelling from Civic through the UC Campus and onto the Belconnen precinct, as well as better walking and cycling connections.”

“The University of Canberra’s Campus Master Plan embraces the concept of the ‘Educated Life’, integrating campus with community through a range of neighbourhoods where people live, learn and work.”

The University of Canberra's master plan map

The University of Canberra’s master plan map. Image: Supplied.

Professor Nixon admitted the plan was ambitious but timely because of the opportunities to change the face of the university.

“This is about lifelong learning, from early childhood all the way through to aged care, and integrating a university into the community,” he said.

“It’s about blurring the boundaries between campus and community and really building opportunities to live and to learn all in the one geography.”

The master plan will see the Bruce campus develop a series of learning neighbourhoods with a student, working and living population of 45,000, consisting of 12,000 residents, 15,000 students and an enterprise and business population of more than 18,000 people.

There will be more than $5 billion of property investment as the university expands its footprint across more than 60,000 square metres of core facilities.

Professor Nixon said by 2030, the University will have made significant steps forward with the development of the residential campus community neighbourhood, the health neighbourhood to the north and enterprise neighbourhood to the south, as well as plans around the future light rail expansion.

“Importantly, we will be getting people moving into and out of the campus and really building a vibrant community, both of education and also entertainment, socialising, sport and living

More information about the University’s master plan is on the UC website.

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