The issue over which of two community groups should lease the
former girl guide hall in Cromwell has been concluded,
leaving a theatre group disappointed and searching for an
Scouting Otago had a historic lease for the Central Otago
District Council-owned building on the Neplusultra Recreation
Reserve but when the group went into recess, it was leased to
the Fine Thyme Theatre Company for five years. That term
expired earlier this year.
The scout group has since re-formed with about 80 members and
both it and the theatre group were keen to lease the hall. It
was mooted at a Cromwell Community Board meeting earlier this
year that the two could work together, but council property
officer Brian Taylor told the board this week that after a
meeting with both groups, "it was clear that joint occupancy
would not work as both are too busy".
The board this week decided to grant the lease to the scout
group, leaving the theatre group wondering where to go.
Theatre company president Megan de Joux said it was a
She said in a way having the decision was good because "now
we can move on", but at the same time, they did not have
anywhere to go and could not afford commercial-level rent.
Mr Taylor said he had struggled to determine which group the
lease should be granted to and attempts to find alternative
space for either group had so far proved unsuccessful.
"On the one hand, it could be argued that Scouts has a
preferential right to renew its acquaintance with its former
building by virtue of its contemplation in the [Neplusultra
Recreation Reserve] management plan. It could also be argued
that Fine Thyme has certain rights. While not contemplated in
the management plan, it nevertheless held a lease granted
after public notification."
He said although the lease could theoretically go either way,
it was considered the management plan should take precedence.
The hall had been purchased by the Girl Guides Association of
New Zealand when previous owners, the local winter sports
club, fell into recess about 1983.
The association entered into a lease with the council for a
term of 21 years which expired in 2006 but had a perpetual
right of renewal. Both scouts and guides had not used the
building for two or three years and it was thought unlikely
that the groups would be revived.
Since the scout group reformed about two years ago, the
organisation had leased other premises in Cromwell but would
rather use the hall.
The board meeting this week discussed alternative sites for
the theatre group, such as the Methodist Church and the
Memorial Hall, but the rent could be too high.
It was thought the hall seemed like a good property for
children to use. Chairman Neil Gillespie said the issue would
ultimately be up to the Minister of Conservation to decide.
The lease granted to the scout group is for a term of five
years with no right of renewal.