The Dunedin City Council says it remains committed to a
multimillion-dollar South Dunedin library development,
despite shelving plans for a temporary library intended as a
The move to scrap the temporary library came at yesterday's
2014-15 annual plan deliberations, after council staff
confirmed they were considering redeveloping the former
Wolfenden and Russell heritage building in South Dunedin for
Councillors had in January signalled their desire for a
small, temporary ''shop front'' library in South Dunedin,
until a permanent community complex - including a library -
could be built.
However, a report by council arts and culture group manager
Bernie Hawke to yesterday's meeting prompted councillors to
It showed the shop-front library would cost nearly $220,000
to establish, and $360,000 to run each year, despite being
the smallest library in the city at just 100sq m, he said.
And, despite offering only limited facilities, it would
require the old building to be upgraded to meet building code
requirements, the cost of which would be recouped by the
owner through the terms of any lease, Mr Hawke said.
That meant it would possibly be more cost-effective to
redevelop the entire building as a larger, permanent library,
as had been suggested by the owner, Mr Hawke said.
However, council chief executive Dr Sue Bidrose told
yesterday's meeting that needed more investigation, including
detailed analysis of the merits of owning and redeveloping an
existing building or leasing one.
That prompted councillors to vote in favour of scrapping
plans for the temporary facility, while reiterating their
support for the planned permanent facility after years of
debate and delay.
Construction of the ''community complex'' including a library
- and making use of an existing heritage building - was
already pencilled in to the council's long-term budget,
beginning in 2017-18.
Councillors asked staff to continue to refine options for
that and report back to next year's long-term budget meeting.
The council had also already pencilled in $8 million to pay
for the facility, but some councillors yesterday expressed
hope costs could yet be reduced and work accelerated.
Mr Hawke, responding to a question from Cr Richard Thomson,
said rough figures suggested the cost of redeveloping an
existing building could cut the required budget by more than
There was already interest from potential partners - such as
Otago Polytechnic - wanting to share use of the building, but
it was too soon to discuss cost-sharing arrangements with
them, he said.
Cr Thomson said it made sense to invest in an existing
building, retaining the area's existing streetscape and
Deputy mayor Chris Staynes said he was ''very disappointed''
the temporary library idea was not viable, but it clearly was
However, the council remained committed to the community
complex project, and reducing costs could allow the project's
timing to be brought forward next year.
''I guess it's a little bit of good and bad,'' he said.
Cr Lee Vandervis said the temporary library only ever
amounted to ''putting a toe in the water'' to test demand for
a permanent library, when that was already known.
He hoped councillors would see the permanent complex as a
priority and ''I hate to say it - borrow some serious money
to get it done''.
Mayor Dave Cull was also disappointed a temporary library
could not work, but hoped the eventual reuse of a heritage
building would encourage the redevelopment of others in the