Consultation for new $4.5m community centre criticised

The new Riccarton Community Centre is due to open this month.
The new Riccarton Community Centre is due to open this month.
The consultation process behind the design of a new community centre in Christchurch has come under fire.

Riccarton resident Garth Wilson has slammed the Christchurch City Council after it did not consult the public on changes it made to its original design for the new Riccarton Community Centre. The plan is to open the centre on December 16.

“The people of Riccarton have waited more than nine years for a community centre. Ratepayers were promised floor space as great as if not more than existed in the old community centre,” he said.

The city council initially went out for public consultation on the initial design when it was one-storey.

It then decided to change the design of the building from one to two-storeys, which was approved by the Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board in 2017 without consultation.

Mr Wilson has raised concerns over a lack of discussion with the public on how much space the city council’s governance team will take up at the new centre on Clarence St.

This is because the governance staff who were formerly based at the old Sockburn Service Centre will not be included at the new Hornby Library, Service Centre and South West Pool.

But in September, the city council approved the scope of works for the Hornby mega-facility - and it did not include space for community governance staff.

There has been confusion with the board over whether or not staff previously based at the old Sockburn Service Centre were now to be stationed at the Riccarton Community Centre permanently.

The board sought feedback from city council staff over the issues raised by Mr Wilson.

Mr Wilson said a formal resolution should have come to the community board to approve the transfer of city council staff from Hornby to Riccarton permanently.

“There has been absolutely no consultation with the ratepayers of Riccarton regarding any of this,” he said.

But city council’s head of community support, governance and partnerships John Filsell said the terms and condition of staff employment including location are a matter for the chief executive rather than the board.

Mr Wilson fired back: “Mr Filsell and the chief executive need to understand that the community is owned by the ratepayers who pay their salaries. It is not owned by council staff. The community centre is not theirs.”

In the original design for the one-storey centre, space available for staff initially was 34m2 while the rest of the community had 500m2.

When the design was changed to two-storeys, the amount of floor space to be used by the city council’s community governance team changed to 111m2 on the first floor.

This will leave about 637m2, excluding external decking for the rest of the new centre, which will feature customer services, a meeting and performance hall, activity/meeting rooms and a kitchen.

When asked what the floor space of the old community centre was, Mr Filsell could not say.

“It is difficult to estimate accurately what floor area was set aside for staff and community use.”

Board member Helen Broughton said there should have been more of a formal discussion and conclusion over the governance staff.

But she said the board did not go out for further consultation on the second design of the community centre in 2017 because it felt it was getting the same floor space.



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