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Residents Upset As Much Loved Community Hall Put Up For Sale

The Ardmore Hall is the only council-owned facility in the area that people can hire for events. Photo: LDR / Auckland Council

Residents of a rural south Auckland community are devastated over a decision to sell a much-loved community hall, which residents donated to the council during World War II.

The Franklin Local Board will sell the fire-damaged Ardmore Community Hall and the adjoining Bell Field, despite several attempts from residents to save it, including a petition.

The hall, built in 1899 by locals and home to a war memorial, has been closed since a fire broke out in 2021 at the front part of the building.

Resident Allan Bell said residents asked the local board to give it back to the community, but council said residents could buy it when it goes on the market.

"The hall was donated by the community and if [it's] no longer wanted, it should be given back to the community, at no cost," he said.

Fire damaged Ardmore Hall - single use only

                          A fire broke out at the front of the building in 2021. Photo: LDR / Stuff / Chris McKeen

Bell, whose great-grandfather was among those who donated the land for the hall, said the building was given to council during the war when there were limited men left to maintain it.

He said the community later upgraded the hall on their own.

"Why should we pay for something twice when it was donated all along from the 1890s?"

Bell said the community's lobbying to save it wasn't considered in the decision, and there was little notification given to residents on the proposal for its future.



However, Franklin Local Board chairperson Angela Fulljames said there was an extensive consultation process, and to suggest community views had been ignored was simply wrong.

The board had considered six options for the hall before deciding on a sale.

This included repairing both the hall and keeping the field or upgrading it, selling the hall and keeping the field, selling the field and keeping the hall, and finally, disposing of both.

Fire damaged Ardmore Hall - single use only

            The hall has been closed since the fire, and will now be sold off soon. Photo: LDR / Stuff / Chris McKeen

Bell said the hall was well used by the community, and would be a huge loss when sold.

The hall and the field were used for classes, meetings, and social gatherings.

He feared other communities like Clevedon would benefit from the sale of hall, and not Ardmore.

Auckland Council Franklin parks and community facilities department manager area operations Eli Ewens said Eke Panuku, the council's development agency, was currently working on potential sale options.

"The Franklin Local Board plans to reinvest any sale proceeds in improving other facilities in the area," Ewens said.

He said when the hall was damaged by fire, insurance wouldn't have covered the fire damage and wider works needed to get the hall back to standard.

"Council self-insures so the cost of repair would ultimately still be borne by council."

Ewens said there were 12 council hire venues, two community centres, and multiple bookable spaces run by non-council providers within 10 kilometres of the hall, and 17 council-owned sports parks in the wider area for Ardmore residents to use.

Fulljames said Wairoa subdivision member Malcolm Bell has been working with the Ministry of Education around buying the land for the neighbouring Ardmore School, but the ministry has declined.

"We are always interested in getting the best possible outcome for our people."

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.

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