Polytechnic campus in solid growth mode

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Otago Polytechnic Central’s Bannockburn campus is expanding and new facilities are either planned, recently completed, or being built, while new programmes and other initiatives are being refreshed or will be introduced.
Campus manager Kelly Gay said the latest building to be added to the Bannockburn campus was the new 630sq m, $1.2 million glasshouse for the horticulture/primary produce discipline, which was handed over by contractors on Wednesday.
‘‘We are pretty proud of that,’’ Mr Gay said.
In addition to the glasshouse, the new complex includes a teaching area, potting shed, administration space, hydroponics and a space for the annual plant sale.
Further landscaping and fencing is planned, while a new entranceway and car park are to be developed next to the glasshouse.
He said the polytechnic’s old glasshouse in Erris St had reached the end of its useful life.
‘‘Instead, we are building more student accommodation at the Erris St site, and we have seven units, each with five bedrooms.
‘‘We have yet to finish them but they are already fully booked.’’
He said they were considering building further accommodation earlier than previously planned aspart of the campus’ growth and its ability to cater for increased numbers.
‘‘We want to be able to offer students beds as part of that,’’ he said.
Other changes include the $5 million trades building addition to the Bannockburn site, which was completed early last year.
It houses the craft beer brewing school, which opened early last year and attracted five students.
Mr Gay said they had already received 25 applications for this year’s brewing course.
‘‘We will cap numbers to ensure brewing students have the best possible experience.’’
As a result of the demand for places, another $150,000 will be spent on expanding the brewery premises to include a retail space, tasting room and more brewing plant.
‘‘We are developing the site to make a larger space to accommodate greater numbers in the future.’’
The polytechnic sells the beer the students make, in addition to its own label chardonnay and pinot noir from its vineyard.
The Bannockburn campus also has its own orchard and Mr Gay would like to see the fruit used in some form of alcoholic infusion.
He said they were also ‘‘in early conversations’’ about making traditional spirits like gin and using honey from the apiculture course to make mead.
The polytechnic (including Dunedin) was allocated double the number of Trades Academy places late last year.
‘‘We are really excited about that. We have 300 student places, up from 150, in-school vocational training.’’
In addition, the polytechnic is redeveloping the Bannockburn golf course, which is open to the public.
Mr Gay said they would run more community education programmes as the pastry and stonewall courses held last year were extremely popular.
Courses offered by the polytechnic at Bannockburn also include IT and robotics.