QLDC supports community hub with $1 lease

by Kim Bowden - Mar 30, 2023

It’s official – the Queenstown Lakes District Council has given go-ahead to lease a chunk of public land near the events centre in Frankton to provide a one-stop shop for social service providers in the Whakatipu.

At last Thursday’s full council meeting, councillors unanimously and without discussion approved an initial 35-year lease for the Whakatipu Community Hub Charitable Trust.

The parcel of land is approximately one hectare at the north-eastern edge of the Queenstown Events Centre, tucked in behind the Crown Pub and Beer Garden and accessed from Murchison Road.

Tentative lease terms were shared with elected members in a council workshop in November.

The trust will pay a peppercorn lease of $1 per annum.

While the ratepayer, via the QLDC is committed to paying at the end of the lease for the improvements on site, with an agreed value of 50 percent of the construction receipts, there is no other ongoing financial obligation in regards to the Whakatipu Community Hub Trust’s plans.

The lease also includes a “no complaints” clause regarding activity at the neighbouring airport, and the trust is designing buildings with high acoustic ratings in light of the location.

Representatives from both parties are expected to sign the lease this week.

The planned facility for the site will provide a home for different agencies and charities working in the district to support those in need - among potential users are Whānau Āwhina Plunket, Happiness House and Queenstown Lakes Family Centre.

The trust was formed in 2019, and its kaupapa is inspired by other successful community hubs around the country, like Tauranga’s The Kollective.

Trust chair John MacDonald says the trust has been searching for the right spot for several years.

"This lease allows us to get on with our planning, and to design, consent and construct the hub. It’s slowly coming together at a time when the need for such a space is greater than ever and continues to grow. Covid and recent floods up north showed us the importance of a community place where people can go for support and help.”

So, what’s in store for the site? The trust has plans to initially construct two 900-square-metre, two-storey buildings, and car parking and pathways.

After five to 10 years, when it’s predicted these stage one buildings will be at capacity, a third and fourth building, similar in size, will be added, resulting in a cluster of buildings.

It will work within existing parameters for the site – buildings under eight metres, with a maximum building footprint of 450 square metres, and the buildings will link with the neighbouring sports fields, users of which will be able to make use of the extra car parking after-hours.

The trust estimates construction costs of $21.6 million for the fully completed four-building facility.

A number of community and stakeholder workshops are planned starting next month, and project administrator Sharon Salmons says they're important.  

“We need to design and create a facility that meets the needs of the social groups looking to use the hub. We are also looking to future proof the project so we need to understand future needs as well as current. We are also committed to delivering a facility that is sustainably efficient and functional.”

A report by council staff presented to elected members at last week’s council meeting says the land up for grabs “provides a rare opportunity to create the hub in a location that is accessible by public transport and major roading connections, while also offering discrete access to the property without overt visible attention.

“This is important to ensure members of the community who are at risk can access the site safely and without fear of attention or repercussion.”

The community was consulted on the proposal in December and January, with 25 people or organisations making a submission on it. All responses were supportive or neutral.

According to a report delivered to councillors with last week's meeting agenda, construction of stage one is likely to be funded by grants from the Central Lakes Trust (50 percent), the Community Trust South (10 percent), the Lotteries Commission (five percent, once 75 percent of funding is secured) and other private donations (35 percent).

If Whānau Āwhina Plunket comes on board at the site, it will bring its own investment contribution.

Meanwhile planning by the trust suggests the hub once operational will generate income to cover its expenses.

To date the trust has received seed funding from patrons Dick and Diana Hubbard, along with donations from Sky City Charitable Trust and the Council’s Mayoral Fund to progress the hub concept. 

The trust says it now wants to hear from anyone who is keen to help with fundraising.

The trust was one of five organisations to pitch their plan for use of the up-for-grabs site to the council in the first half of last year - the unsuccessful applicants were KiwiHarvest, the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association, the Queenstown Airport Corporation, and the Queenstown Cricket Club.

Main image (QLDC documents): The Whakatipu Community Hub Trust is set to sign on the dotted line this week, securing a shared home for the area's social services on land at Frankton for $1 per year for at least the next 35 years.

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