Miners' Hall refused help

By Tui Bromley

The Grey District Council will send a strong message to the Runanga Area Association that it has no intention of funding an upgrade of the old Miners’ Hall in the former coal town.
The historic hall has been a bone of contention with the council since the area association last year successfully sought New Zealand Heritage Places Trust category one status for the building.
The application was made despite the building being an earthquake risk and in a questionable structural state, and against the strong opposition from the council, which owns the hall.
Although there is nothing compelling the building owner to upgrade it, council staff say the new classification will add onerous compliance requirements should an upgrade take place, and “complicate an already complicated situation further”.
In accordance with its policy of not investing in community halls, the council offered the Runanga hall to the area association. That group not only rejected the offer but added a rider that it expects the council to work with it in the renewal and restoration of the building back to its heritage status.
The group also insisted that the council offer the building protection under the District Plan.
Deputy Mayor Cr Doug Truman last night recommended that the council notes that the Runanga Area Association had declined ownership but also reinforced its stance of not funding the restoration.
The council also deferred any decision about incorporating the hall into the District Plan.
“We should make it quite clear that the way forward for us is to not spend any money on that building,” Cr Truman said.