The Central App

Cromwell Memorial Hall project gets green light

The Central App

29 February 2024, 7:00 PM

 Cromwell Memorial Hall project gets green lightCromwell will soon be home to a new hall. PHOTO: File

The Central Otago District Council (CODC) has approved a $45.8 million rebuild of the Cromwell Memorial Hall.

The project has been many years in the making, but ultimately it was the 2019 Cromwell Masterplan that clearly identified the hall as a key catalyst project for the future of the town, which, in more recent years, had garnered overwhelming community support.

Listen to Mayor Tim Cadogan interview on The Outlet Podcast this morning - click banner below.

‘Get on with it’ was the common theme the project team and Cromwell Community Board (CCB) members had encountered when they ran community drop-in sessions in March 2023.


The project team has been working closely with an advisory group, and had provided regular updates to the Cromwell Community Board (CCB) and council.

At the most recent CCB meeting on February 12, the board supported the project moving forward and sought the support of council to get things underway.


During the presentation to council at Alexandra on Wednesday, February 28, it was noted this would be the most significant and ambitious capital project ever undertaken by the CODC.

It was noted costs to build anything had risen sharply in recent times, and unfortunately this project was not immune to those market forces.

But, any further delays would only see the project become more expensive and unlikely to ever be realised. 

The plans shared with councillors was for a multi-use facility incorporating an auditorium, café, museum, cinema, meeting rooms and multiple public spaces.     


The capital cost to build the new hall would be funded through a combination of endowment land sales, external grants and debt funding, with councillors clear that they expected debt to be paid off within five years through further land sales.

The overall cost to build the hall is $45.8 million, with Naylor Love confirmed as the construction partner and Jasmax as the construction project manager.  


While the Cromwell Memorial Hall project cost to build is greater than initially budgeted for in the 2021-2031 Long-term Plan (LTP), the overall cost of capital projects included in the Cromwell Masterplan, which was widely consulted on, was higher.

Councillors noted, by approving an increased level of capital expenditure on the hall, the community would need to be further engaged on the Cromwell Town Centre redevelopment plans in the next LTP consultation.


Cromwell Community Board chair Anna Harrison spoke of the future and legacy such a facility would bring to Cromwell and the wider region.

“We already know Cromwell and Central Otago is a desirable place for visitors and residents alike. To be progressing a facility that will become an icon for both the community and visitors to enjoy, as well as being a key hub for the sharing of knowledge and culture through conferences and events, is very exciting.”    


After the meeting, CODC property and facilities manager Garreth Robinson said "after long, robust and probing discussions over the past two years, we have landed on advancing to the construction stage of the project".

"As a project group we heard loud and clear the calls from the community to get on with it, and we can all clearly see Cromwell needs such a facility for its rapidly growing population," he said. 


“There must be clear process and accountability when you are spending this amount of community money, and the project stakeholder engagement group, Cromwell Community Board and council, have all challenged the project team with some tough questions at various key stages. I’d like to particularly acknowledge the input we’ve had from those involved in the project stakeholder group, which has been critical in assisting us understand the needs of the community and different user groups.”


CODC group manager planning and infrastructure Louise van der Voort said while council was conscious that the community wanted us to "get on with it", measures had to be taken to make sure it could appropriately fund the capital programme with a backdrop of increasing costs and tough economic times.

Ultimately, we think through this process, a good balance has been struck between using land sales and debt funding to be able to progress. Work will continue to seek out other external methods of funding.


“Recently we haven’t been able to share much on this project with the community due to commercial sensitivities. I know this has been a source of frustration for staff, elected members and the wider community, so it is fantastic being able to now openly share where things have got to and how the project will progress; it is another important milestone," she said.

“So, we have a clear directive to push on, and one of the most significant moments comes soon, with saying farewell to the old hall, and its demolition.”


The former Cromwell Memorial Hall will be officially farewelled in a ceremony that the entire community will be invited along to.

Once demolition of the hall is complete, the new facility will take about two years to complete. 


The report presented to council gave a series of hall revenue scenarios, with the ‘low’ or most conservative scenario being used to inform the decision-making process. The project team will continue to work on refining the operating model and exploring different revenue opportunities as the project progresses.  

Mayor Tim Cadogan discusses the hall and other topics on The Outlet podcast this week.