21 November 2017
Waipa District Council will seek community advice on how best to maximise use of the Cambridge town hall.
In October the Council commissioned a feasibility study into the category two historic building. The study involved extensive consultation with hall users and other stakeholders over options for future use. Currently the hall is used only sporadically, hosting 17-20 weddings a year plus other functions.
The hall's shortcomings, including a lack of catering facilities and technical equipment, make it impractical for some events. Annual hireage fees fall well short of the costs needed to maintain the building.
The feasibility study, carried out independently, has identified five potential options for the hall. Mayor Jim Mylchreest said the Council has not reached a position on any option and would not until the community had been consulted during the 10-Year Plan process early next year.
He recognised Cambridge people were passionate about the town hall and felt they needed a say in its future.
"In the meantime, Council has tentatively allowed $4 million dollars in our 10-year budget to cover investment in the hall. That signals very clearly that we are committed to preserving and maintaining the hall; it's just a case of working through the best way to do that."
The study found that any future option for the Council-owned hall was unlikely to generate a profit, given the investment needed and the number of other venues already available. The five options identified were:
- Keeping things the same – requiring ongoing maintenance but meaning it was unlikely the hall would be better utilised. This option was not supported by most stakeholders.
- Improving the hall as a community venue – requiring some alterations and an earthquake strengthening upgrade. There would be no guarantee of increased use given other venue options.
- Restoring it to its original state – requiring major capital expenditure, earthquake strengthening and with no guarantee of increased use
- Turning the hall into a multi-purpose function space – requiring a complete reconfiguration of the interior and major capital expenditure. This may require a partnership with a commercial entity.
- Using the hall as a long-term exhibition space/visitor attraction – requiring a complete repurposing of the space. This was the option independently recommended by those who did the feasibility study.
Mylchreest said Council had only just received the study and would now seek more detail about each option, including potential costings.
Details would be included in the draft 10-Year Plan consultation document to be released in March/April next year, he said.
Media enquiries, contact Jeanette Tyrrell (on behalf of Council) 027 5077 599