A big chunk of Marine Park is on the shortlist of council-owned sites in Sulphur Point proposed for Waikato University's planned Marine Research and Education Centre.

The university currently operated its Coastal Marine Field Station out of a commercial building in Cross Rd near the Sulphur Point boat ramps.

Its plan to build a marine research facility will see today's meeting of the council's economic development committee consider two site options further up Sulphur Point.

They were the northern section of Marine Park reserve on Keith Allen Drive or undeveloped land on the seven hectares of Sulphur Point north, between the Tauranga Marina hardstand and the Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club.


The option recommended by council staff was to endorse the shortlist of sites on Sulphur Point as potential locations for a new research and education facility.

It would potentially become the second council-owned site in central Tauranga offered for a major university development. The other site, a former off-street carpark in Durham St, was now under development for the new tertiary campus.

The committee earlier this year agreed to investigate the feasibility and implications of using council-owned land as a potential location for the marine research centre.

"Further analysis and targeted stakeholder engagement is now proposed in order the identify the most feasible site," the report to today's meeting said.

Benefits to Tauranga included expanded tertiary and post-tertiary education opportunities, enhanced international research partnerships, build on extensive iwi partnerships developed by the current facility, and open up further opportunities to enhance the coastal environment.

"This opportunity aligns directly with the intention for Tauranga to become an internationally competitive city," the report said.

The advantages of Marine Park as a site included that it had close access to a deep sea channel and good water quality. The drawbacks were that it was a recreation reserve and was inconsistent with the council's current Harbour Reserves Management Plan.

The advantages of Sulphur Point north was that there was sufficient space for a development, there were adjacent commercial leases, and it had an existing council boat ramp access.

The drawbacks were that part of the seven hectares was parkland offering passive open recreation and part was carparking. It would require communication with key stakeholders and was inconsistent with the Harbour Reserves Management Plan.