The University of Tasmania has unveiled a potentially up to $70 million plan to build 430 selfcontained
apartments in Hobart’s CBD, under the National Rental Affordability Scheme
(NRAS), funded through the Australian Government and with support from the Tasmanian
The project will see the redevelopment of the Melville Street car park into a vibrant and
cosmopolitan precinct. In addition to the student accommodation a retail hub is proposed for
the site’s Elizabeth Street frontage.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Rathjen said the NRAS project, with an investment of
around $120 million statewide, would bring significant economic benefits to the State both
during and after construction, as well as providing the University with an opportunity to
attract new students from across Tasmania and from overseas.
“The University has stated its intention to do more to welcome students from Tasmania,
Australia and the world into the life of the University. Living in student accommodation is
one part of that great university experience,” said Prof Rathjen.
“UTAS is maximising the opportunity with this development by adapting to how students live
and study in today’s world. This project will attract more than 400 new residents to enjoy life
right in the heart of the Hobart CBD.
“Just imagine – living and shopping in an area that’s within walking distance of academic
buildings, the State Library, shopping, the public transport system and downtown Hobart —
that’s going to be amazing.”
The building design will reflect the layered character of the local streetscape, with retail
facilities at street level. The new apartments will be complemented by central common areas,
laundry facilities, catering services, academic support services and 24-hour on-site
residential support. Public access will be maintained through a landscaped area extending
from Brisbane Street to Melville Street.
In addition to the accommodation, a pedestrian-access footbridge will be constructed to link
the Domain site with the CBD, providing safe access for students and the public across the
Prof Rathjen said a key feature of the NRAS project was to help relieve pressure on the
supply of affordable housing.
“Providing a diverse selection of living options is an essential part of developing the quality of
student life at UTAS. Socio-economic disadvantage, including the availability of suitable,
affordable housing, presents a significant barrier to many students accessing tertiary
education,” he said.
“The University will reserve apartments for the most disadvantaged students and will assist
these students by significantly subsidising their accommodation costs. Up to 10 per cent of
all apartments will be fully accessible to students with a disability.”
Prof Rathjen said the Melville St development would provide yet another boost to the local
building industry, along with two other University projects nearing completion.
“Stage two of the $90 million Medical Science Two building is scheduled to be substantially
complete by the end of January and construction work on the $45 million Institute for
Antarctic and Marine Studies building at Salamanca is on schedule to be finished in the third
quarter of 2013,” he said.
“These developments, along with the Domain site which was transferred back into University
ownership last year and is now undergoing refurbishment and restoration, have the potential
of enhancing and contributing to the vibrancy and vitality of the city.”
The investment in NRAS will total some $120 million, delivering an expected 770 selfcontained
apartments for student accommodation across the State.
The first stage of the NRAS project is being developed on the Newnham campus in
Launceston, where 180 apartments designed by Tasmanian architects Morrison and
Breytenbach are due to be constructed by December, to be available for students for the
start of the 2014 academic year.
In December, Launceston City Council agreed to transfer a parcel of land to the University,
which is earmarked for a second NRAS student accommodation development in the North –
a four-storey, $20 million (approx.) block of 120 apartments.
A $4 million (approx.) development is also expected in Burnie.
Prof Rathjen said the NRAS project, as with the other recent developments, would reflect the
University’s commitment to best-practice sustainability.
“The University’s sustainability credentials were recognised at the annual 2012 Green Gown
Awards, which honour excellence in environmental sustainability in the tertiary education
sector,” he said.
“We received the Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability Award of Excellence.
Shortly afterwards MS2 became the first educational building in Tasmania to achieve a fivestar
Green Star rating for environmental design.”