St John's to remain Karori hub

TRISH PLUNKET
Last updated 08:35 03/05/2012

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The Wellingtonian

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The Karori St John's hall and surrounding land will continue to be leased out by Wellington City Council until 2015 while funds are raised for a new Karori events centre.

The area, next to a petrol station in Karori Rd, was earmarked for an events centre in 2008, following construction of a new community centre and library.

However, progress on the centre stalled after the major fundraising drive was postponed. It had been launched 10 days before the Christchurch earthquake.

Karori Community Hall Trust chairman Wallace Simmers said not much progress had been made.

"It's been held up significantly by the time it took to get the approvals from council," he said.

"It took about two years and eight months to get beyond the resource consent stage."

The events centre is expected to cost $3.8 million.

The first stage of fundraising will be to approach business and organisations for significant donations.

Mr Simmers said there would be little overt fundraising for the next few years.

"Hopefully we might be starting building by the time we start the community appeal."

He expected construction would begin in 2014.

The city council, which owns the site, discussed extending the lease on the area for a further three years at a strategy and policy meeting last month.

There was debate over whether the land should be declared surplus and sold, and the committee recommended giving the Community Hall Trust more time.

Councillor Andy Foster said there was a real need for a community hub in Karori. "We have a network of community facilities which help create strong communities."

However, Karori had a lack of community- owned land, he said. The area around the St John's site had been rezoned from residential.

"Karori is one of our most significant suburban centres, and in that sense it's a place for people to come to for all kinds of activities."

Mr Simmers said the centre would be used by groups that currently use the dilapidated St John's hall, and by people looking to stage drama and music. "It creates an opportunity for local performing arts to be fostered."

Public consultation would be sought before the recommendation to extend the lease went before the council.

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