Community moving forward with plan to relocate hall

Right hall, wrong place. Ahuroa wants to move its heritage hall back from the road to a safer, sunnier site.

More than 100 years after it was built, Ahuroa’s historic hall could be on the move. It won’t be going far, however – just back a few metres from its present site on the edge of Ahuroa Road, next to the village school.

At least that’s the hope of the Ahuroa Community Hall Advisory Committee, which has come up with the radical method of improving hall facilities without having to pull the old building down and start again.

Committee member Jo Bullock says they realised some time ago that it wasn’t the hall itself that was causing problems, it was its east-facing, roadside position. So, now they are hoping to move the entire wooden hall further back on to a lawned area behind the hall, and swing it around so that the building catches more light and heat from the sun.

“It really needs to be shifted, so we can create a better and safer connection with the outside,” Jo says.

“Rotating the hall 90 degrees will allow more sunlight in to make the hall brighter and warmer for users, and a deck and doors installed on the north side of the hall would allow children and users to move more freely in and out.

“And moving the hall towards the back of the section means it will be further away from Ahuroa Road and safer for children, family events and functions, and more easily supervised.”

In a recent deputation to Rodney Local Board, the committee said the new position would also make life easier for anyone wanting to use the hall’s kitchen facilities.

“Access to the back and kitchen door is currently only by foot,” they pointed out. “In the proposed new position, there will be easy vehicle access to the rear door, making catering for bigger functions far easier.

“There is potential to also improve wheelchair access.”

The committee estimates that the cost of relocating the hall and its services, plus associated earthworks, will come to around $105,000. The committee has raised $12,000 already and has more fundraising plans, including a crowdfunding page, but is currently focusing on getting the idea drawn up and distributed for community consultation.

“If there is someone out there who would be willing to donate us a bit of time and expertise to complete some drawings that would be very much appreciated,” Jo says. “Once we have some concept drawings, we will create a short online survey and ask members of our community to provide feedback. We really need concept drawings to share with people, so they can better understand the idea.”

The committee is also hoping for help from a draughtsman or architect to draw up detailed plans of the hall’s structure and foundations.

“We have had a geotechnical report generously done for us by Hutchinson Consulting Engineers, which is a positive, but we need to get a greater level of detail on the building itself,” Jo says.

Meanwhile, Rodney Local Board has earmarked $170,000 to renovate the 108-year-old hall  in its latest three-year Community Facilities Work Programme, with works set to start in 2021. However, Board chair Beth Houlbrooke says Council staff will meet with and liaise with the hall committee and take recommendations from them in conjunction with the hall relocation plans before any such work is carried out.


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