The state government has given the tick of approval for a new Japanese university campus on the site of the former Newcastle courthouse.
The Department of Planning and Environment signed off on the $41 million Nihon University proposal to build a language studies and student exchange campus on Friday.
The campus proposal includes:
- Site preparation works, including removal of 29 trees, earthworks, remediation works and installation of ancillary services and infrastructure.
- Construction of two new part three, part four-storey buildings, including 108 bed student accommodation building.
- Associated vehicle access arrangements, ground level car park, public domain works and site landscaping, including rooftop open space.
- Demolition of the existing Administration Building and Supreme Court Building.
Newcastle is the first overseas campus for Nihon University, which recently celebrated its 130th anniversary.
It has previously said its vision for the new campus is to serve as a "hub for international mutual exchange programs between Australian and Japanese students promoting and understanding Japanese culture."
It signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Newcastle for future exchange programs in February 2018 as part of its commitment to the Newcastle project.
A timeline for the campus's construction is yet to be announced.
Nihon has described its proposed exchange program with University of Newcastle as "the efficient re-use of the old courthouse".
"It is also intended to open the doors to students of Newcastle University to experience mock-up trials, debating with visiting Japanese students, cross learn the judicial systems of both countries in the environment of the courthouse," Nihon said.
Nihon University would donate more than 5000 books on Japanese criminology and law, for the use of Newcastle university researchers, and some lectures would be open to the public as part of the university's "social contribution".
"Such open lectures could be on judicial and law matters but also on cultural issues such as tea ceremony, calligraphy, flower arrangement, and other culture oriented activities."
Liberal Upper House MP and Hunter spokesman Taylor Martin said the project would strengthen Greater Newcastle's status as a major university city.
"The university will form part of the metropolitan education and innovation cluster identified in the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan. It will boost the city's educational capacity attracting hundreds of overseas students," he said.
Mr Martin said the conditions of consent will ensure changes to the heritage building will be sensitively designed to complement and protect the heritage and character of the former courthouse.
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