Future use of Cambridge Town Hall comes into focus

A feasibility study on how to improve the historic Cambridge Town Hall is underway.
Mike Bain

A feasibility study on how to improve the historic Cambridge Town Hall is underway.

It was built in 1909 of Edwardian design, has hosted countless weddings, birthdays and functions, as well as members of the Royal Family.

The Cambridge Town Hall made international headlines when news agencies from around the world used it as their base to capture images of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, when they visited in 2014.

The town hall was recognised by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust as a Category Class II building and it's about to be the focal point of a feasibility study to determine its future use.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, lay a wreath at the Cambridge ...

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, lay a wreath at the Cambridge Cenotaph, in front of the Cambridge Town Hall in 2014.

Waipa District Council's group manager business support Ken Morris said the council was committed to preserving and maintaining the town hall which he acknowledged was a well-known landmark.

"It's a stunning building and as part of our heritage we have an obligation and a desire to preserve and maintain it.

"But we should invest in a way that enables the community to get maximum use from the hall.

"In order to leverage on the building's potential, council needs to understand the view points of both current and potential users needs for the future."

Currently the income falls well short of covering the annual costs to maintain the building.

The facility hosts an average 17 to 20 weddings a year as well as other functions.

Being a category class II historic building, it had some restrictions which made it unusable for some groups.

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These included a lack of catering facilities and technical equipment and an impractical stage and backstage area.

The feasibility study would consider a range of issues including the current use and what it cannot offer in comparison to other venues.

Consideration would be also given to possible operating and funding models, including best use of the i-SITE space at the rear of the hall, the forecourt plaza and Jubilee Gardens.

The building was owned by the council.

Discussions had begun with user groups and other interested parties about its future.

A report to be considered by council will recommend any changes, including upgrades to amenities.

Future recommendations on any alterations or additions to the facility and costings will be included in the council's draft 10-year plan.

The draft plan would be formally shared with the community for feedback in March next year.

Neighbouring Matamata-Piako District Council budgeted $6.9 million for its new memorial and civic centre.

 - Stuff

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