Centre project design plan starts

By Lawrence Gullery

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Plans for Flaxmere community centre's first major redevelopment needs to be let to contractors by August to claim insurance from a 2007 fire which destroyed the former community building, Te Whanau House.

The claim was worth about $350,000 and must be used for additional space, not just reconfiguring existing buildings at the community centre, also known as Flaxrock. The centre was located next to the Flaxmere library and included the sports hall, meeting rooms, a gym and a climbing wall.

Hastings District Council yesterday agreed to move the concept plan for the centre to the detailed design stage and allocated up to $151,000 for the work which would begin immediately.

The council's community programmes acting group manager Craig Threw and Flaxrock Advisory Group member Andrew Shortcliffe outlined the urgency of the design stage to the district development committee yesterday.

"We expect to report back to the council in June with the detailed design plans and then a construction contract must be in place by August. If this does not occur, we only have the indemnity value of about $90,000 available," Mr Threw said.

The council, in its long-term plan, allocated $840,000 (including the insurance funds) over the next two years towards capital work for the project. An estimate for construction of the project was about $1.4 million.

The centre had multiple entry points which confused visitors and gave the impression the centre was "a collation of separate offerings" and not a single entity, Mr Threw's report said.

The new design would redefine the entry with a foyer to provide access to the wider complex including the library. The foyer would create a focal point and provide space to welcome large community groups.

"The concept also provides space within the foyer for a potential cafe which currently does not exist in Flaxmere," Mr Threw's report said.

There was also an option to extend the Flaxmere Library and connect it to the rest of the community centre complex, rather than leaving it as a separate building and service.

Flaxmere councillor Jacoby Poulain said the nearby Flaxmere shopping centre was a separate redevelopment project but would also aim to be better connected with the community centre.

She said the council's move to start a detailed design plan was the first public decision made to change the community centre since Te Whanau House burnt down on Swansea Rd almost five years ago.

"There have been specific community groups targeted for their advice on the project but this would be the first indication that work is about to happen on the community centre."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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