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Mandatory marquee discussion begins with a few beers on Friday

by 30 Sep 2007Mahurangi West Hall0 comments

Mahurangi West Hall marquee site

Marquee Site: By creating a venue for weddings etc., the Mahurangi West Hall will be in a position to pay its own way—for the first time since the community took responsibility for the darling building when it closed as a school, in 1946—but first the community needs to demonstrate that it is behind the proposal. photographer Jonathan Barran

A discussion over the planned scale of use of the Mahurangi West Hall is underway.

The discussion is mandatory, a requirement of the Resource Management Act.

Many rile against the act, but the common sense embodied in it is often lost sight of—specifically, the encouragement to involve those in the planning of a project who may later be affected by it.

So this part at least is simple: Take any opportunity, such as the Few Beers on Friday fortnightly gatherings at the hall (the next is 12 October), over a ‘drink’ or a cuppa, to chew the fat over the amount, and type, of hall use you would be comfortable with.

The proposal that the hall be developed by Mahurangi West Hall and Reserve Incorporated so that it can be hired for marquee use has gained good traction in the community. The concept is to make the hall pay its own way without having to extend it, and spoil it, in order to make it viable for uses that would allow it to pay its own way—the bind that the Mahurangi West community has been in since taking over the hall in 1946.

The challenge is provide for marquee use without spoiling the site with a huge car park. Because the proposed marquee use is not an existing use, planning rules call for onsite parking.

To kill two birds with one stone, it is proposed that marquee use be conditional on busing in guests:

  1. smaller car park
  2. no drink driving!

The catch 22 is that buses are big buggers to turn and require significant parking space, albeit considerably less than for cars.

The breath of sanity returns with the offer, by the council planner, that if the marquee use was moderate, buses may be permitted to simply pull off to the side of the road and discharge passengers, and be parked elsewhere. (If Gubbs Motors buses were used, we are advised, one would return to Warkworth rather than the driver, or drivers, being paid to wait out the event onsite.)

Burnette O’Conner, who is very kindly providing her resource planning services free of charge, believes that 10 marquee events per year might be a useful starting point. This should be sufficient to earn the revenue required to make the hall financially viable, but not so frequent that the community might begin to resent ‘outsiders’ for monopolising the venue.

It will be hugely helpful to the council, when it considers the resource consent application, if it can have complete confidence that the community solidly supports the proposal.

(Attending this election’s ‘meet the candidates’ meetings provided a salutary reminder of how readily council bureaucracy is blamed for complications that, in many cases, arise from the community failing to reach a reasonable consensus.)

If a resource consent was obtained for this, or similar, scale of use, it could be revised at any time in the future. It is to be hoped, however, that this would not be necessary for at least a decade—the process is pricey.

So, while the beer is not mandatory, the discussion that began at the Mahurangi West Hall on Friday, and elsewhere, is!

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