Wollongong's CBD should be anchored by a dynamic university precinct to breathe life back into the city, a new planning report has recommended.
The GPT Group has presented to the city's councillors and business community a commissioned review of Wollongong's planning guidelines and long-term vision documents, suggesting radical changes are needed to attract more people to live in the CBD.
The report, prepared by world-renowned urban planners CIVITAS, recommends the city's building height limits be scaled back to allow for better views to the escarpment and a reduction in the amount of inner-city land zoned for commercial development.
Seven key "character" precincts each with a different make-up of residential and commercial space should be established, it said.
The plan earmarks a revitalised MacCabe Park as a highlight of the CBD, to be bordered by a string of residential high rises, akin to New York's Central Park.
Setting up a University of Wollongong faculty in the city's east, possibly on the former Dwyers site, would also act as a catalyst for regeneration of the CBD, the report said.
GPT development manager Steve Turner said urban planners worldwide were recognising the importance of universities in creating busy, vibrant cities.
"The ability to create a precinct on the eastern edge of the CBD that provides constant vitality and vibrancy to the city centre and entertainment precinct could be a fantastic benefit to the quality of the city," he said.
However, UOW has dismissed the idea as "too expensive" because it would force a duplication of essential services including library facilities, lecture theatres, research laboratories and academic offices.
UOW administration vice-principal Chris Grange said the university believed housing students in the city centre would be of greater benefit than establishing a CBD faculty.
"We believe university accommodation in the CBD delivers a bigger bang for your buck," he said.
Mr Grange denied the university's proposal to move its arts faculty to a new building next to Keiraville's Gleniffer Brae manor house was similar to CIVITAS's recommendation, saying Gleniffer Brae and the main university campus were a five-minute walk apart, while Wollongong's CBD was 20 minutes away by bus.