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Two Buildings With One Stone: Indicative Business Case Unveiled For Combined Library, Community Hub And Civic Centre


A transformative vision for the future of Whakatū Nelson was unveiled at a City Centre revitalisation summit held at the Trafalgar Centre today (Tuesday 26 March), outlining a strategic case for investing in a new library and community hub, combined with a new civic centre to replace Civic House.

Faced with the costly and pressing reality of the increasing costs in maintaining Elma Turner Library and Civic House, both of which are nearing the end of their useable life, Council’s proposed solution tackles multiple issues in one concerted effort.

By combining a new library and community hub with civic offices, elected member facilities, and a customer service centre, this plan offers a strategic blend of innovation and practicality that endeavours to enhance service delivery, modernise essential infrastructure, and revitalise the city centre.

The indicative business case, produced by TwentyTwo Independent Property Advisers Limited, and options presented, underscore the urgency and potential inherent in pushing forward with a new civic investment, says Nigel Philpott, Nelson City Council Chief Executive.

“We have a major challenge in respect of the facilities of both Nelson’s Civic House and Elma Turner Library. We have recently strengthened the library, extending its life by five to 10 years but a new facility will be required,” says Philpott. “Civic House requires major refurbishment or replacement and has not had any significant investment for 30 years. The potential of a combined library, community hub and civic centre is an exciting option.

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“These are early days in considering the future of the library and Civic House. We are releasing this report to provide transparency on one of the options – a combined library and civic centre. There is a long runway for projects of this scale with much more work to be done on this and other potential options before any decisions are made. Any proposal needs to have broad community support and we would engage further before any decisions are taken."

Drawing inspiration from successful initiatives in other communities like Taupo, Napier, and Ashburton, as well as developments closer to home in Motueka, Blenheim and Picton, the proposed project aims to create more than just a community library. By providing multifunctional spaces and modern amenities such as a sound studio and gaming centre, which were extremely popular with young people in Ashburton, the envisioned hub seeks to become a cornerstone of civic life.

The 2024-2034 Draft Long Term Plan retains the $65m (uninflated) currently provisioned for a new library, community hub and refurbished civic centre.

This project, if supported by the community after a full consultation process, would require an additional $20 million in the Council’s Long Term Plan over and above the $65 million for the previous Library proposal and existing budget provision for refurbishing Civic House.

The extra impact of the further $20 million would have no impact on rates until Year 5 (2029/30) and Year 6 and would be modest if funded over a long period that is appropriate for an intergenerational asset.

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