• Jill Herron


A view set to change...funding for the demolition of the Cromwell Memorial Hall(centre) and building of a new event centre and museum was approved today.

The Central Otago District Council has approved $31.5M for the construction of new hall/event centre and museum at the site of the Cromwell Memorial Hall.

The efforts of over 500 people who gave their views, many in person at public hearings, on the council’s Long-Term Plan(LTP) were again praised at the council’s meeting this week. The LTP sets out financial planning for projects throughout the district to 2031 and Cromwell residents had been particularly vociferous in sharing their views on it.

A clear message had been given that projects like the hall and Cromwell Mall revamp were overdue for action, Wednesday’s meeting heard.

Mayor Tim Cadogan said the message from the community on the hall was “bloody well get on with it”. He said the Cromwell Community Board had allowed for flexibility regarding both the size and ownership of the project.

“A Trust has already been set up to take it over, whether that is how it wishes to go forward is in the Board’s hands. There is freedom of movements in both of those directions if it is deemed to be required.”

Cr Neil Gillespie said the Cromwell Community Board’s recommendation that funding be approved reflected people’s submissions “loud and clear” and he supported that it left scope for assessing the most suitable size for the facility.

“We need to do that work to reflect what the community needs… not what it wants but what it needs.”

He said the Trust-led idea had merit and he was aware of examples of where this had worked well, but also others where it had not.

How to best address the town’s needs for such a facility has been a matter of debate for twenty years. No time-frames for the project were discussed but planning phases were expected to be faster than that for a Mall upgrade, also approved yesterday. This would be started at the same time as the hall.

The Mall projects, set out in the LTP consultation document as costing $42M, would include the outgrown service centre being revamped or repurposed, but not demolished as had initially been suggested. The funding includes $5.5M for a resource centre.

Public feedback had generally opposed the CODC’s original proposal to demolish and rebuild the service centre and adjacent library on the same site.

The Board reversed the plan after hearing people’s views, and funding for further urban design work was approved. This work was expected to take two years and the civic projects which are funded through rates paid by all Central Otago residents, would then be reviewed by council.

Other aspects of remodelling the outdated Mall would not be slowed by any reviews as they were funded through the Cromwell ward’s own rates. All projects are part of the Cromwell Masterplan which covers a 30-year timeframe.

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