Salisbury reserve consultation and the Masonic Hall

The Waitematā Local Board is currently consulting on options to improve the entrance to Salisbury Reserve in Herne Bay. It removes the removal of the old Masonic Lodge Hall on Argyle Street. Here is some of the background to the project. 

In August 2010, the former Auckland City Council purchased the Masonic Lodge at 12 Argyle Street, Herne Bay from an Open Space budget. At the time, the intention was to remove the building to open up the park and improve access and amenity. The former council requested that first consultation take place on the future of the building. In 2011 the Waitematā Local Board  proceeding with the public consultation.

Community views on use of the site and building were sought through a public consultation process in November 2011. At the time the hall was being used by Probus on a month by month lease.  A few other groups came forward interested in gaining access particularly performance and dance groups wanting to take advantage of the wooden sprung floor in the main hall. The majority of the consultation responses favoured retention of the building for community use, however a significant number of these were from supporters of the current user or a potential user. The responses favouring removal of the building were primarily from the surrounding neighbourhood.

The Board deferred a final decision on the future of the building pending advertising for expressions of interest to gauge the level of interest in use of the building. This was carried out in August 2012.  Three expressions of interest were received (only one from a local group) and following evaluation and discussion with the Board, one of the groups was identified as best meeting the criteria for use of the building.

Before progressing any further with the expressions of interest, confirmation of the resource consent requirements for the residential 6a zoned property was sought. The Board was advised that the Masonic Lodge was operating under a resource consent that was limited to lodge activities only and this cannot be relied on for ongoing community use of the building.

Taking into consideration the original purpose for buying the site, the lack of strong evidence of the need for a community facility in this neighbourhood and the time, cost and uncertain outcome of a resource consent application, as well as considering the benefits of the site to Salisbury Reserve as open space, officers recommended that the Board not proceed with the resource consent application, removes the building and incorporates the site into the adjoining reserve.

At the time of purchase in 2010 there was no evidence of the need for additional community facilities in this area. The location is not ideal, being surrounded closely by residential properties and away from neighbourhood centres and public transport routes.

Unfortunately due to the legal advice we also couldn’t  continue to make the hall available for any bookings so it was closed immediately pending a decision on the removal and a proposed concept design for the entrance. The Probus lease was also terminated at that time and the group moved to the Herne Bay Petanque Clubrooms in the reserve.

Once a decision was made to go ahead with the original intent of the land purchase we asked officers to look into options for relocating building so it can be used elsewhere.  However, after advertising the building and further investigations we were advised that as very little of the original villa remains there is no interest at all in  the building (due to the concrete block construction to the rear it is also very difficult to move intact). We therefore allocated budget to ensure the demolition involves recycling as much as possible.

Two options for the reserve entrance are now out for consultation.   I feel comfortable that we arrived at this point after thoroughly investigating options for the hall and we would have preferred for it to be in use if that had been possible.  The current consultation doesn’t seek to revisit whether the hall is retained (I don’t think that would be prudent based on what we know about the resource consent and the likely cost of restoring the building) but seeks feedback on how we can best create an entrance to the reserve as originally intended.

At the same time we also want to make sure that the existing community facility in the reserve is as accessible and useable as possible (subject to the requirements of the leaseholder). The board has allocated $25k in the budget 18/19 to refurbish the bathrooms in the clubrooms on top of other renewal work that has taken place there recently.

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Consultation opens on Salisbury Reserve Plan  Our Auckland

Consultation documents and have your say feedback form

Consultation closes 16 August