Sneak peek at community hub

What a view . . . Clutha Community Hub Charitable Trust chairman Dale Anderson (left) and secretary Natasha Munro stand inside the partially constructed Clutha Community Hub. PHOTO: EVELYN THORN

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Locals had their first glimpse inside the partially-constructed Clutha Community Hub in Balclutha on Saturday. Progress was revealed with an open day and a free sausage sizzle. Clutha Community Hub Charitable Trust members said they were delighted to see a large turnout.

‘‘We’re pretty excited that so many people have turned up to look around and get an understanding of the space we’ve planned, ’’ trust secretary Natasha Munro said.

The hub was conceived in 2017 and construction began in 2020.

Mrs Munro said the trust was confident it would stick to the $23 million budget announced for the hub earlier this year. ‘‘We’ve had to incorporate value-engineering into our plans so we can establish the hub without impacting on the final finishing touches,’’ she said.

‘‘We’ve stuck with it so far, so we hope to keep it that way until we’ve completed the project. We’ve definitely had to battle with the prices in the construction industry, along with Covid-19 and inflation, so it’s been a challenge.’’

The new community hub will include meeting spaces, an auditorium, public toilets, tenancy spaces, a war memorial area, museum spaces, an i-Site visitor centre and more.

Visitors on Saturday were impressed with the plans for the hub, although some had concerns.

‘‘It’s a very exciting new facility and area for the community but hopefully it doesn’t take away from other spaces that may rely on people having functions and meetings elsewhere. There are always things to think about,’’ a woman who did not wish to be named said.

Mrs Munro said the open day was an exciting way for local people to get a feel for the interior spaces that would be available for public use and community benefit.

‘‘There are many aspects that make the hub multi-use. It’s about being sustainable for the community and we’re aiming for adaptability and flexibility for people near and far,’’ she said.

‘‘From rural to business to well-being aspects, the community needs them and we’ll have them here when the project is complete.’’

The hub is expected to be completed by July 2023.