'At-risk' hall flies through new test

JO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN
Last updated 14:37 19/05/2014
mike kerr
JO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN/ Fairfax NZ
TOUGH ENOUGH: Central Otago District Council property and facilities manager Mike Kerr, Bannockburn Community Centre Management Committee Inc chairman Kerry Stainton-Herbert and Cromwell Community Board member and councillor Nigel McKinlay celebrate news that the Bannockburn Hall will not be demolished.

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Bannockburn's historic community hall has escaped the threat of demolition by meeting new building codes to a "surprising" standard.

Central Otago District Council property and facilities manager Mike Kerr said a second engineer's report had found the hall met about 80 per cent of the National Building Standards (NBS).

The hall was closed in March 2011 following a council report which assessed the building as high risk, going as far as saying in the event of a moderate earthquake or even a high wind the building was at risk of "catastrophic collapse".

After a push from a fraction of the community, the council commissioned a second report, the findings of which were released publicly yesterday.

Kerr said the initial report was done before the Canterbury earthquakes in a "cost-effective" manner.

"The information in the report at the time left the council with no other option but to close the hall for safety reasons. Since then, and with advancement after the Christchurch earthquakes of assessment methods for earthquake proneness, further advice had been sought. The second engineering assessment is considerably more detailed."

However, the variance in conclusions was "surprising", he said.

"We are surprised at the amount but we have got no reason not to accept the report we have now."

Although it took time to secure the services of Hadley & Robinson Engineers, the council and Bannockburn Community Centre Management Committee Inc (BCCMCI) felt it important to hire an engineer with significant experience in assessing stone buildings and recently advanced assessment methodology, he said.

BCCMCI chair Kerry Stainton-Herbert said they were surprised and delighted at the outcome.

"It could have been a $1.3 million rebuild that may never have been able to be raised. Now there are more options and we do [repairs] in stages. I think the community will be ecstatic.

"We are hopeful that an incorporated society will be able to take ownership of the hall on behalf of the community to progress redevelopment, as has been planned."

Cromwell Community Board Member and councillor Nigel McKinlay said the community now controlled the hall's destiny.

"To me, this is very much the heart of the Bannockburn community and the Bannockburn community is growing. From the community board point of view, money was budgeted for the Bannockburn Hall to be released on approval of plans and a feasibility study. Depending on options the community decides on that will give it a kick-start to not just getting the hall reopened but refurbished and improved."

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The community board had set aside $192,000 in the annual plan towards redevelopment of the hall, he said.

Remedial work includes repairing the stage.

- The Southland Times

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