Karori community 'losing a lot' with campus sale

4:17 pm on 13 December 2017

Some Karori residents are disappointed a retirement village will replace a teaching campus they've long relied on for recreation.

Vice-Chancellor professor Grant Guilford.

Vice-Chancellor professor Grant Guilford. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Victoria University has been in charge of the campus since it merged with the College of Education in 2004. The campus was formally transferred to the university in 2014 for $10. Yesterday the university said it had sold the site to Ryman Healthcare for an undisclosed amount.

Residents had been fighting Victoria's plan to sell the complex which has been used for years by locals for tennis, netball, dance classes - just to name a few.

Some residents are unhappy those facilities are being lost.

Karori residents have mixed feelings about the sale of the Victoria University campus to Ryman Healthcare to develop a retirement village on the site. Michelle Sloan was not happy about the sale.

Michelle Sloan Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Mother of three Michelle Sloan said she would have preferred it if some facilities were kept for the community.

"The kids play netball there, my daughters do jazz there, we're losing a lot as a community, and I think that's a shame.

"I don't think we'll get those facilities back, there's no other space for them."

Wellington councillor Diane Calvert has been advocating for part of the campus to be kept in community hands.

She said she had hoped the Ministry of Education's bid to buy some land to build a technology hub for local schools would be a way to do so.

"I think with the announcement by the Ministry of Education last week that it was withdrawing from purchasing any of the site through the Public Works Act and knowing that Vic Uni was close to finalising it's open tender process, there was little we could do from a council perspective."

Ms Calvert said the council would approach Ryman Healthcare to see if some recreational facilities could be kept.

Victoria University vice chancellor Grant Guilford said the Ministry of Education's proposal to buy land did not work because the university needed to sell the buildings as well.

He said the university was not profiteering from the sale.

The first $3.5 million had been used to create scholarships for seven disadvantaged students in the region to go to Victoria University, Prof Guilford said.

The money would also go towards earthquake strengthening, and contributing to the cost of getting a permanent home for the faculty of education.

Prof Guilford said Ryman Healthcare wanted to keep the retirement village open to members of the community, so some recreation activities might be able to continue there.

Not all residents were opposed to the sale.

Karori residents have mixed feelings about the sale of the Victoria University campus to Ryman Healthcare to develop a retirement village on the site. Linda stockholm is happy abouut the sale.

Linda Stockholm Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Linda Stockham thought the retirement village would be great, and would bring in money and jobs to the area.

"I think the thing's an eyesore so I'm really pleased it's going to be developed actually."

She said Karori had fantastic facilities, such as squash and tennis courts, and she could not see why it was a problem.

Ryman Healthcare said it was too soon to say when construction would start, but that it would consult widely with the community, local iwi and Heritage New Zealand.

Victoria University's Karori Campus.

Victoria University's Karori Campus. Photo: Google Maps.

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