The Returned and Services Association has been added to a closed list of external stakeholders who will be invited to give design input in Cromwell’s proposed $16million town hall.

Cromwell Community Board members unanimously agreed to the addition at a meeting last week because the RSA has a special interest in the existing Cromwell Memorial Hall.

Chairwoman Anna Harrison said the stakeholders group would represent some “quite diverse thinking” and be “quite robust”.

The other stakeholders are Fine Thyme Theatre Company, Cromwell Town and Country Club, Cromwell Cultural Centre Trust and Cromwell Museum.

Other groups are not likely to be invited because the board has adopted an advisory group recommendation to carry out a closed expression of interest process, which includes calling for specific skills sets from the people put forward by each of the five members.

Council property and facilities manager Garreth Robinson said the closed process should reduce ad-hoc engagement and improve efficiency,

He said the advisory group recommended just four stakeholders RSA stakeholders group “nice and small”.

Cr Neil Gillespie said the existing Cromwell Memorial Hall commemorated returned services groups, so the RSA should be invited to be stakeholders.

It was important to avoid the difficulty of having one group saying it was talking for another group when it did not, he said.

Central Otago District Council planning and environment executive manager Louise van der Voort advised it was time to consult about design.

The community had repeatedly told the community board and council to “get on with it” and there had already been significant engagement from the community, she said.

“Community voice is important but it doesn’t have to be the loudest .. [We] need expertise and people with connections to progress it as quickly as we can,” she said.

Ms van der Voort confirmed if the stakeholders group was not working as well as it should, substitutions could be agreed or appointed.

Cr Nigel McKinlay said there was a risk of slowing things down if the group was too wide but he agreed the RSA should be included.

“It’s now Sept 2021 and come July 2022 we had better have something cracking. It is balancing that timeline against consultant and stakeholder groups. There’s something in what Louise said,” Cr McKinlay said.