Community could lose hall to council

TROUBLE: The Sheffield Community Hall is set to undergo earthquake repairs, but at the cost of full ownership potentially being signed over to the district council.

The Sheffield Community Hall may finally get its much-needed earthquake repairs.

But it is likely to come at the cost of the community losing its ownership of the hall to the district council.

Nearly $300,000 was approved by the district council in March to go towards seismic strengthening of the hall.

But the Sheffield-Waddington Community Committee has been told by the district council if it does not sign over full ownership of the hall, the funding will be cut.

The issue has arisen due to the ownership of the hall being under the name of the Sheffield Community Hall Incorporated Society which legally no longer exists due to it being removed from the Register of Societies in 2000 because of inactivity.

The hall has been financially resourced and managed by the district council in partnership with the Sheffield-Waddington Community Committee since the 1990s.

A special non-notified meeting to the public was held by the committee in September over the ownership of the hall.

In order for the repairs including new bracing and structural connections to go ahead, the district council needs building consent.

At the meeting, the district council’s property services co-ordinator Rob Allen told the committee a resource consent does not need to be in the property owner’s name but a building consent does.

Concerns were raised by committee members the public needed to have a say on the matter as it was a community hall and the sense of “community” surrounding the hall would be lost.

But member Kerry Pauling said while the concerns were valid, signing over the ownership was the only choice the committee had.

It was resolved the Sheffield Community Hall Incorporated Society was reinstated and the hall is transferred to the district council for nil consideration.

Six members voted for, one voted against and two abstained.

A letter from the district council’s property and commercial manager Douglas Marshall to the committee’s chairwoman Val McKenzie on October 5 said the resistance to the change of ownership is understandable.

But he said: “If the community do not want to undertake this change of ownership then the council is in a difficult position where it will not be able to provide funding,” he said.

Former mayor Bill Woods who is involved in the issue said the community needed to hear all alternatives to resolving the issue as it is the community’s hall that will be handed over.

Instead of reforming the trust, one of the alternative was the hall could be vested in the council and vested back to the people if they wanted it, he said.

Mr Marshall told Selwyn Times consultation on changing the ownership is not required as the building will remain a community facility.