Hall upgrade under way

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Bannockburn’s grand old lady – the 105-year-old Coronation Hall – is undergoing a long-awaited upgrade, but should be back in action by February.

Ownership of the hall was transferred to the Bannockburn community by the Central Otago District Council two weeks ago, heralding the start of a new era for the building, Bannockburn Community Centre Management Committee chairwoman Kerry Stainton-Herbert said.

Her committee would continue to manage the hall as it had done under former council ownership.

“But it belongs to the community now,”she said.

It was “absolutely fantastic” to be moving forward with plans for the hall.

“There is a huge demand for it and we have been cancelling bookings left, right and centre for everything from weddings to concerts.”

Work on an extension that would incorporate a foyer, toilet, kitchen and meeting room facilities was under way by Amalgamated Builders Ltd and was expected to be completed in the new year.

The project had a price tag of about $400,000 and the committee had raised about $200,000, with funding agencies the Central Lakes Trust and the Lotteries Commission contributing.

The council also had “some money” set aside in its long-term budget, Mrs Stainton-Herbert said.

Until two years ago, the future of the building was under a cloud when an engineer’s report deemed the hall to be at risk of collapse in a moderate earthquake.

However, a subsequent report has given it the all-clear.