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A project advisory board will be formed to oversee the next steps of the Cromwell Memorial Hall, the Cromwell Community Board (CCB) decided last week.

However, the extent of additional community input is yet to be determined

Years of seeming inaction and delays to decisions regarding the hall have long been a point of contention for Cromwell residents.

In June the Central Otago District Council signed off $31.5million for the development of a 2000sq m town hall/events centre and museum on the site of the existing hall through the 2021-31 long-term plan (LTP).

Community consultation gave a clear mandate to “just get on with it” and a 12-month planning and design phase was agreed to and outlined to the community board.

In a report to the CCB, council property and facilities manager Garreth Robinson recommended an advisory group be formed with the project sponsor, programme manager and two community board members to keep the project moving.

Governance-level decisions would still be made by the community board.

The option of creating an external stakeholders group to feed into the project advisory group was also pitched.

However, any such group would need careful consideration, identifying the right balance of members, Mr Robinson said.

“One risk in seeking external viewpoints is it can lead to consultation fatigue,” he said.

CCB chairwoman Anna Harrison said she agreed it was “ambitious” to aim to be at the beginning of the construction phase by the beginning of July 2022, knowing the community had asked them to be future-proofing and ensuring the flexibility of the space.

Werner Murray asked how an external stakeholder group would work, given it was a high-profile project in terms of community interest, with many people others

“This is obviously very high profile in terms of the community. It’s been a long time coming,” he said.

Mr Robinson recommended expressions of interest be sought and shortlisted by the community board.

Newly sworn-in community board member Bob Scott asked where the Cromwell Cultural Centre Trust (CCCT) fitted into the scheme of things and Mrs Harrison said the trust, or members of it, could put forward to be part of the external stakeholders group.

Neil Gillespie said the CCCT did have members with areas of expertise that would be beneficial.

The board agreed to the establishment of the advisory group and appointed CCB chairwoman Anna Harrison and community board member Nigel McKinlay to join Mr Robinson and the council’s planning and environment executive manager on the advisory group.

It resolved to allow the project advisory group to recommend to the board if an external stakeholder group was required.