An independent survey has revealed overwhelming support for the University of Wollongong's $40 million proposal to develop Gleniffer Brae.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents in the Illawarra Regional Information Service (IRIS) survey either "supported" or "strongly supported" the university's plans to establish a creative arts hub at the historic Keiraville site.
IRIS executive director Simon Pomfret said the telephone poll, which was commissioned by UOW, surveyed a random sample of 406 residents on August 23-24.
"The university asked us to run the poll to gauge community support for the proposal and the city-wide response showed overwhelming support, with 71.8 per cent in support of it," he said.
"The university was also interested in the community's response to a range of issues, such as heritage and conservation, and public access, so we formulated a number of questions to address such concerns also.
"We found that public access to the historic house was a critical issue for the community, with 92.9 per cent of residents agreeing it should continue to be open to the public for functions.
"And 96.6 per cent of residents agreed an ongoing commitment was needed for the heritage conservation and maintenance works to the house and garden."
UOW put forward the proposal to lease Gleniffer Brae for 25 years after Wollongong City Council said it could no longer afford its upkeep.
The university's plan to create a purpose-built facility to house its creative arts activity and the Wollongong Conservatorium of Music, plus return the historic house to a functions centre, has had mixed reaction.
Representatives from five community groups, and the South Coast Labour Council, held a conference outside Wollongong City Council on Monday, voicing their opposition to the proposal while a public hearing was held last night at Wollongong Town Hall.
UOW Vice-Principal (Administration) Chris Grange welcomed the findings.
"We commissioned the IRIS survey to allow more residents to have their say," he said.
"The university has put its position forward, as has council and a number of community groups, but we really wanted to hear from individual community members."
Mr Grange said the poll also revealed that 67 per cent of residents felt the university would manage the Gleniffer Brae site better than Wollongong City Council.
The council's exhibition for the proposal closes on September 14.