80pc want opera house strengthened

By Sophie Price

1 comment
The Hawke's Bay Opera House looks set to be refurbished, including a strengthening level of 70-75 per cent, a result Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule is happy about.
The Hawke's Bay Opera House looks set to be refurbished, including a strengthening level of 70-75 per cent, a result Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule is happy about.

The curtains look set to rise once more at Hastings' grand old dame with almost 80 per cent of residents voting in favour of strengthening the opera house.

Today, the district's councillors will be asked to receive a report on the issue. Those who submitted to the public consultation and asked to be heard orally on the matter will then be given the opportunity to do so this afternoon, tomorrow and Thursday.

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule was incredibly happy with the result.

"We have had a great response. We have gone out of our way to try and look under every stone and say to people right if you want to have your say [say it] now, and they have."

Mr Yule wasn't surprised by the 3049 responses, because asking what to do with the Heritage 1 listed building was "one of the bigger" decisions the council will ask the community about.

"We tried to put out there all the information - we spent a lot of time going through, trying to get it right," he said.

"And I think they [the respondents] have reacted accordingly.

"I am very grateful for it. That is what community consultation is meant to be about."

Of the responses received 2707 were from the tear off response forms and 342 were written or online submissions, with the community expressing a mix of views across a range of matters.

"From the response forms 76 per cent answered yes to the questions about investing in the opera house to a strengthening level of 70-75 per cent at an estimated costs of $10-$11 million," he said.

Fifteen per cent of respondents wanted the building demolished. "A common theme being that a building of this age did not warrant further investment," report writer Lex Verhoeven said. "Many of these submitters also raised concerns about rates and debt levels and the affordability of council plans looking forward."

Seven per cent of respondents preferred to invest in a modern performance facility, 1 per cent supported strengthening it but at the minimum level of 34 per cent and 1 per cent felt it should be opened with little or no investment - "an enter at your own risk approach". A few submitters wanted the building strengthened to 100 per cent.

Mr Verhoeven reports the breakdown from the written submissions were similar to those from the questionnaire, with 80 per cent of respondents saying yes to a strengthening level of 70-75 per cent, 8 per cent wanting the building demolished, 7 per cent wanting a modern facility and 5 per cent wanting the enter at your own risk approach.

In regards to the plaza roof he reports 68.5 per cent of all responses said yes to the $2 million investment into permanent roof, subject to a feasibility study - with those who said no citing affordability as their major concern. Mr Verhoeven said ideas were "varied" in regard to the use for the Municipal Building, including a smaller scale community performance venue, with spaces such as changing rooms shared with the main theatre.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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