Reconsideration reprieve for hall

Retaining and strengthening Bannockburn's earthquake-prone, century-old Coronation Hall will be considered again before a final decision is made on replacing it.

It is now more than two years since the facility was closed because of its earthquake risk and the community has considered several options and decided to build a new hall, estimated to cost about $1.3 million.

The hall is owned by the Central Otago District Council but the Bannockburn Community Centre Management Committee manages the facility, as well as the nearby community-owned church.

The committee held its annual meeting this week and retiring chairwoman Jan Hawkins said the past year had been a challenging time for the group.

She said in her annual report: ''... we now know that the build is proving to be a slow and painstaking process.''

Under the first published timeline, it was hoped to have the building demolished by now and the official opening of a new community centre by Easter next year, she said.

The Cromwell Community Board has agreed to provide a grant of $204,000 for the hall, giving half in the 2014-15 financial year and the rest the following year.

Cromwell ratepayer and Historic Places Central Otago chairman David White raised concerns in May that the building had been condemned without a fair hearing.

He said a further assessment of the building should be carried out by a qualified engineer specialising in heritage and adaptive reuse of buildings, before demolition was considered.

Mr White believed the hall could be retained and strengthened for less than half the estimated $1.3 million cost of a new one and said recently restored buildings at Olivers in Clyde and Butlers Farm, at Fruitlands, were of similar construction to the Bannockburn hall.

Council property and facilities manager Mike Kerr yesterday said the council would fund work on whether retaining and strengthening the existing hall was viable, so the committee could then make an informed decision.



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