Revamp of Cromwell mall in limbo as CODC looks to cut spending

by Kim Bowden - Apr 22, 2024

Despite a spruce up of the Cromwell Mall being one of the 'big-ticket' items included in the Central Otago's last Long Term Plan, the future of the project is again up for discussion.

While the Cromwell Community Board has set aside $665,000 for "investigations and analysis" on what the central space could look like in years to come, exactly how much money will remain in the kitty for realising that will depend on the district's priorities next year.

Council chief executive Peter Kelly says the community board has recommended the council defer detailed discussions on the project to the next Long Term Plan process.

The "investigations and analysis" will feed into that planning process.

Long term plans prioritise council spending for the decade ahead and are developed every three years - however, while 2024 should have been a long term plan year for councils, the CODC is one of many that has opted to push out the process into next year at the invitation of the government and in response to three waters uncertainty.

"It will delay the Cromwell Town Centre project, which will need to be reviewed and re-prioritised along with all the other major capital projects," Mr Kelly says.

Councillors at a meeting on Wednesday will be choosing whether or not to sign off on proposed spending for the year ahead that will then go out for public consultation.

Mr Kelly says the latest recommendation from the Cromwell Community Board will be considered by councillors at the meeting.

He says private businesses and property owners in the Cromwell town centre "have been engaged in a range of discussion" and once the council has made a formal decision on Wednesday "further discussions will occur".

A report to councillors ahead of Wednesday's meeting says, "Rates affordability is always a consideration in preparing budgets but particularly for the 2024/25 year council and staff have put in considerable rigor on preparing an ‘essential only’ budgets, given the increasing cost of living faced by our communities".

The 'Cromwell Town Centre' project is one in a list of examples of "expenditure reductions".

Cromwell's ageing mall was a point of discussion in the 2021 to 2031 Long Term Plan, where the community was consulted on an ambitious $42-million proposal to breathe life into the area.

At the same time, discussions were had on what to do about replacing the problem-plagued Cromwell Memorial Hall. This project has moved forward, with a bumped up budget of $45.8 million.


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