Old school buildings could be given new life

A COMMUNITY group’s vision for one of Invercargill’s obsolete school buildings could give it a new lease on life.
The Invercargill branch of the Cook Island Christian Church (CICC) has applied for Invercargill City Council (ICC) resource consent to convert the former Elston Lea Primary School buildings on McQuarrie St into a community centre and minister’s residence.
‘‘It would be very exciting to be able to offer [the facility] up to other community groups,’’ CICC project manager Tina Maine said.
‘‘We are there for the community. We are part of the society and we want to share what we have with the community.’’
Along with many other schools in the city, Elston Lea was left to decay after it was closed by the Ministry of Education in 2004.
The CICC tenanted the property in 2009, before purchasing it in August 2013.
Mrs Maine said the building had been vandalised over the years and had many broken windows and a broken skylight before the church members took it over and obtained funding to make repairs.
‘‘We are really proud of what we have done… We will keep working towards our vision and our dream for this building — not just for our community church activities, but for the community [at large] as well.’’
If resource consent was approved, the group intended to install a commercial kitchen, shower block and sleeping facilities, she said.
The east wing of the building, formerly the school administration block, would be converted into a threebedroom residential space for the minister and his family.
Mrs Maine said the group had received complaints about the noise from the drumming coming from the site, and she admitted they could be ‘‘quite loud’’.
The group sought to address the noise issue by proposing to erect a 1.8m-high fence, plant a line of shrubbery around the boundary, and install soundproofing to the walls of the buildings.
ICC resource management officer Christine Edgley said the council had received three submissions on the resource consent application, two opposed and one in support.
A hearing date is set for June

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