A design concept for a tertiary campus development in Tauranga's CBD has been approved by its three regional funders - Tauranga City Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, and Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust.
The concept was also approved by the Tauranga Tertiary Campus Charitable Trust, the entity responsible for overseeing the interests of the three regional funders.
The design concept highlighted the facilities which would be built to create flexible, modern undergraduate and postgraduate teaching.
Features included customisable teaching spaces, a 200-seat lecture theatre, a multi-function space, computer labs, and common areas for studying and socialising.
The design was created by architecture firm Jasmax, with project management by Greenstone Group.
University of Waikato senior deputy vice-chancellor Professor Alister Jones said the concept sign-off marks a major milestone in the campus development project.
"We know the key to delivering a vibrant and engaging campus is getting everything right from the beginning, and thanks to the input of our stakeholders, alongside a great design, we'll be able to work together to deliver on our promise to develop a campus that plays a big role in the Bay of Plenty region's future."
The University of Waikato leads the development of the CBD campus on behalf of the Tertiary Education Partnership.
The new facility would work closely with Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic's Bongard Centre on Cameron Rd, bringing closer the vision of a tertiary precinct in the Tauranga CBD.
Dr Neil Barns, interim chief executive of Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic said the sign-off represents how much momentum has been gained in the project.
"We have a tremendous opportunity to create a distinctive experience for tertiary students in Tauranga. Careful planning from now will dictate the programmes that will be offered at the campus, and the increased opportunities we will be able to deliver to our community, both in terms of study options and attracting students outside the region."
Concept sign-off comes after the university announced in May plans to spend an extra $15 million, on top of the original $10 million committed to the project, to produce a Tauranga CBD campus of the highest possible standard.
The campus already had $30 million of community funding from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust, and would sit on land donated by Tauranga City Council.
Bill Holland, chairman of Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust said he was delighted the project had reached the sign-off stage.
"The design provided is fantastic and caters to everything the CBD campus is about - collaboration, flexible teaching and learning, and the integration of technology to create a truly modern tertiary environment."
Tauranga City Council chief executive Garry Poole said the approved concept design took the city another step closer to delivering a vibrant education hub in the central city.
"The campus is going to bring enormous benefits for the city and the region and create a real buzz in the CBD."
From a regional point of view, Bay of Plenty Regional Council's chief executive Mary-Anne McLeod said the development was something that would help define the region in a similar way the development of the port did.
"The campus development will provide for 1000 full-time students and is a tangible investment in education and skills development to further our economic growth. I have no doubt it will further define this region as first-choice for living, working and learning."
The University of Waikato-led campus would be shared with other parties in the Bay of Plenty Tertiary Education Partnership, Te Wananga o Awanuiarangi and Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.
It was expected to open by 2020.