Theatre Royal/Heritage Centre Consultation

Current Consultations

Theatre Royal/Heritage Centre Consultation

SETTING THE STAGE: Building a new home for culture and heritage in South Canterbury

Let us know your views

Thanks for those who have given feedback to this consultation. Submissions have now closed.

We want to know which option you support for the development of the Theatre Royal and Heritage Facility in Timaru.

There are three options we are consulting on before making a final decision on the project:

  • Option 1: Theatre Royal refurbished with the Back of House removed and rebuilt, and a new Heritage Facility built (Council’s Preferred Option)
  • Option 2: Theatre Royal with the existing Stage House/Back of House retained and refurbished, and a new Heritage Facility built
  • Option 3: Theatre Royal only refurbished and the remaining area to be landscaped

Please read below to find out more information on the options and answers to key questions. If you have further questions, please contact us on submission@timdc.govt.nz

Drop In Sessions

Come and talk to us at one of our drop-in sessions:

DateFriday  4 NovemberSaturday 5 NovemberMonday 7 NovemberTuesday 8  NovemberWednesday 9 NovemberWednesday 9  NovemberTuesday 15 November
Time2-4pm10am-12pm10am-12pm10am-12pm11am-1pm4-6pm3-5pm
VenueCouncil ChambersTheatre Royal  FoyerGeraldine Library/ Service CentreTemuka  Library/ Service CentreTemuka  Library/ Service CentreTheatre Royal FoyerCouncil Chambers
Address2 King George Place, Timaru122 Stafford Street, Timaru80 Talbot Street, Geraldine72-74 King Street, Temuka72-74 King Street, Temuka122 Stafford Street2 King George Place, Timaru

How did we get to this point?

In 2018 following community consultation Council decided to co-locate a new Heritage Facility with the Theatre Royal. Since that time considerable work has gone into developing this project, including investigation, design, community and stakeholder engagement, land purchase, contract negotiations, site investigations and initial works.

The project is extremely complex, particularly as the Theatre Royal is a Heritage listed building, as well as the functional requirements for a theatre and museum facility, satisfying the demands of multiple stakeholders, and the impact and ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In September 2021, Council made a further decision after feedback from stakeholders to investigate the option of removing and rebuilding the Stage House and Back of House facilities of the Theatre, which has further delayed the project.

In September 2022, the final outcomes of all these investigations were presented to Council. This included the impacts on costs from the Covid-19 pandemic on supply chains, resource availability, design factors and other risks.

At that meeting, Council decided to:

  • discard the option of removing and rebuilding the Stage House/Back of House facilities.
  • seek community views on which of the remaining three options was supported, given the cost increases.

Council’s preferred option is to continue with the project, refurbishing the Theatre Royal with the Back of House removed and rebuilt and building the Heritage Facility alongside.

Consultation Timeline

Date

Task

Thursday 3 November 2022

Consultation opens

Thursday 24 November 2022

Consultation closes at 6pm

Tuesday 6 December

Council – consultation summary report and hearing (if required) and final decision

The Options

More detail on these options can be found below:

Option 1: Theatre Royal refurbished with the Back of House removed and rebuilt, and a new Heritage Facility built (Council’s Preferred Option)

The total estimated cost of this option (including work completed to date) is $57.1M, with $45.5M community funded and $11.6M government (Ministry of Building Innovation and Employment (MBIE)) funded.

Advantages

Disadvantages

A new Theatre Royal and Heritage Facility will be built with all the associated benefits for the community now and into the future

Project costs are higher than original budget

The main advantage of Option 1 is the enhanced layout and changing facilities are all on one level and adjoined on one level to the stage, side stage areas and front of house toilets and other facilities

Option 1 is approximately $1M more expensive than Option 2, and $17.1M more than Option 3

The existing heritage Theatre Royal building would be retained and enhanced

The financial impact on rates and Council debt and financial strategy higher than originally forecast

Future issues facing the current Museum on Perth Street are addressed, with museum-quality and accessible exhibition, education and public programme areas at the new site; and the current site retained for storage, archives research and work areas

 

The combined facility on the Theatre Royal site will help the regeneration of the south end of Stafford Street and will contribute to the CityTown project

 

Full utilisation of government (MBIE) $11.6M funding is possible

 

Option 2 – Theatre Royal with the existing Stage House/Back of House retained and refurbished, and a new Heritage Facility built

The total estimated cost of this option (including work completed to date) is $56.1M, with $44.5M community funded and $11.6M government (MBIE) funded.

Advantages

Disadvantages

A new Theatre Royal and Heritage Facility will be built with all the associated benefits for the community now and into the future

Project costs are higher than original budget

The existing heritage Theatre Royal building would be retained and enhanced

Option 2 is approximately $16.1M more expensive than Option 3

Option 2 is approximately $1M less expensive than Option 1 as the Theatre Royal back of house facilities remain intact but are refurbished and connected to new services that would be built in the new Heritage Facility.

Option 2 does not have a conjoined level surface area through the back of house changing facilities, stage and side stage facilities. Floor levels between the Back of House facilities and the new facilities would be different.

Future issues facing the current Museum on Perth Street are addressed, with museum-quality and accessible exhibition, education and public programme areas at the new site; and the current site retained for storage, archives research and work areas.

The financial impact on rates and Council debt and financial strategy higher than originally forecast

The combined facility on the Theatre Royal site will help the regeneration of the south end of Stafford Street and will contribute to the CityTown project

 

Full utilisation of government (MBIE) $11.6M funding is possible.

 

Option 3 – Theatre Royal only refurbished and the remaining area to be landscaped

The total estimated budget for this option is $40M. If the government (MBIE) funding was retained, the approximate cost for the community would be $28.4m. However, there is a high likelihood that the government funding will be lost, meaning the community would need to fund the full $40m.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Theatre Royal would be refurbished with all associated benefits for the community now and into the future

Museum current and future issues would not be addressed and a solution would still be needed. Cost benefits from co-locating with the Theatre would be lost, and the potential cost of a standalone facility would be significantly higher

The existing heritage Theatre Royal building would be retained and enhanced

Government (MBIE) funding of $11.6m is highly likely to have to be forfeited, including returning funding received to date

This option is a lower cost than Options 1 and 2, however there is a high likelihood of losing the MBIE funding, leaving the community to fund the entire cost of the refurbishment and betterment of the surrounding area.

The sunk cost of what has already been spent on the Heritage Facility part of the project will be lost.

 

The cost of the Theatre refurbishment alone would be significantly higher

 

The financial impact on rates and Council debt and financial strategy higher than originally forecast

Questions & Answers

Cost

What was the original budget for the project?

$26.5M

Why has the project cost increased so significantly?

Covid-19 significantly affected labour, supply chains and materials costs during 2022.  The project when first reviewed with estimates in mid to late 2021 was not able to anticipate the significant escalation increase for services, supply of labour and cost of materials.  The contractor and the project team began investigations and determining the build requirements of the Preliminary Design from March 2022 through to July 2022.  Indications of the sheer movement of escalation began to appear in early July 2022 when the contractor began to close out and prepare to report on cost estimates.  The project team anticipated an increase in costs but until the contractor was able to complete their investigations, the true extent of the increase was not able to be quantified.

Two further factors were an increase in scope as directed by Council and then the general state of the Theatre Royal building and the requirement of the scope to remove parts of the building and rebuild new. Whilst conducting structural engineering works, the condition of the foundations and other works required to the Heritage Grade 2 listed building became apparent.  Due to the enormous amount of work and increase in costs due to Covid-19 conditions, the estimate for this element of the project was much higher than anticipated.

Can Council afford this project?

In order to accommodate the increase in costs, Council will need to make significant funding changes to both the rates and debt requirements compared to what was originally planned in the LTP for Year 3 (2023/24) and beyond.

How will the project be paid for and who will pay?

The additional costs for the project will be paid for through rates and loans, and will be repaid over time.

How much will the project increase my rates bill?

The table shows the financial impact on current projections and is based on the revised project cost estimates and timing. It applies for an average residential property.

 

Option 1:  $57.1M

Option 2: $56.1M

Option 3: $40M approx.

(Rates numbers below reflect no government contribution)

Rate increase per year 2023-2031 before project increases

4.90%

4.90%

4.90%

Rate increase per year relating to project increases

0.75%

0.74%

0.68%

Rate increase per year required from 2023-2031*

5.65%

5.64%

5.58%

Approximate annual increase to rates for the average residential property, occurring progressively over the period 2022/23 onwards, across the remaining life of the LTP 2023-2031

$17.14

$17.14

$17.10

*These increases only relate to the increased costs as a result of the Theatre Royal/Heritage Facility project. They do not account for changes to other projects on Council’s books.

What are the risks of the costs continuing to increase?

Further cost increases are possible both given the delays in the project and ongoing global instability.

Doesthe new price include contingency for further costs escalations?

Yes, the new price includes contingencies in anticipation of some cost escalation and the contractor has factored in cost escalation through to 2023 when the revised options were presented to Council.  Any cost escalation will be reviewed again when negotiations begin after developed design and moving in to detailed design.

What has been spent on the project to date?

$3.1 Million

What is the MBIE funding Council has received from government?

Council was granted $11.6M funding from the government’s infrastructure stimulus fund, administered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) in September 2020.

What will happen to this funding depending on which option is chosen?

The government funding is for options 1 and 2 as they align with the funding agreement. Option 3 would be unlikely to receive the same level, or any Government support, and would likely mean Council would need to repay the funding already received.

If Council decided to just focus on the Theatre Royal, will the government (MBIE) funding still be available?

It is highly likely that this money would be removed from the project, including having to return the funding that has been received to date.

Council’s decision

What is the decision Council will be making?

Council will be deciding which of the three options to progress, but are in agreement that Option 1 is their preferred option.

If the consultation does not favour the preferred option, can Council still decide to agree to it?

Yes, Council can still agree to the preferred option, but will take the consultation feedback into account when making the final decision. Council is not bound by the option that emerges as favoured through the consultation process.

If Council decided just to focus on the Theatre Royal, what would happen to the Museum project? 

The Museum would continue operation on its current site until such time as a new strategy was determined to move forward with this project. The current and future issues associated with the museum remain.

Impact on Council work programme and finances

How will this impact on other projects that are currently in Council’s work programme, agreed through the Long Term Plan?

The current economic climate has ongoing increases and cost escalations. If Council’s Financial Strategy was to be reset, consideration will need to be given for any other cost increases for other projects.

Decisions will need to be made during the Annual Plan process on whether other projects are delayed or reprioritised once the details of these are known.

If agreed, how will this project impact Council’s financial situation?

Council’s current Financial Strategy will be breached because there will be higher than forecasted debt and rates for the remaining period of the current Long Term Plan. Council will need to agree on new debt and rates limits within the Financial Strategy and whether this reset is appropriate to accommodate the Theatre Royal.

Initial modelling indicates that an increase can be accommodated within legally allowed limits for debt without affecting our credit rating, should Council decide that increasing the Financial Strategy debt limit is appropriate along with the increase in rates.

The Project

Why is the project necessary?

Council has been grappling with potential solutions for a facility to replace the Museum since at least 2015. Solutions are needed for the lack of suitable storage and display space, a rapidly growing collection and building a facility that is modern and meets community expectations. The current facility is not fit for purpose as a museum space and parts of the building do not meet modern museum standards.

The Theatre Royal is a unique heritage listed facility. Upgrading work was needed to futureproof the facility as a viable, safe and usable facility. This included updating the ability of the Theatre to hold certain shows and improving the show ‘infrastructure’ such as the theatrical flying system, lighting rigs and changing facilities. Along with this, the theatre needs refurbished, including replacing the floor and seating and improving theatre access and parking.

The 2015 and 2018 LTP consultations focused on options for the Museum and Theatre with Council deciding that the best solution was to co-locate a new museum exhibition facility with an upgraded Theatre Royal. The timeline below summarises what has occurred since that decision.

What would it cost if the projects were completed independently on separate sites?

Option 3 estimates a $40M cost to refurbish the Theatre Royal and future-proof it to modern standards. This is an estimate only, as detailed work is still required for this option. Building a standalone museum facility would depend on the scope and scale of the build, but combined overall would cost considerably more than a co-located facility.

If Option 1 is given the green light, what is the timeline for construction through to opening?

If Council’s preferred option (Option 1) is chosen, main construction works will commence in February 2024 with the facility planned to open in April 2025. Prior to the main construction, work would be carried out on resource and building consents, design, and further site investigations and enabling works.

Has the project changed since it was confirmed in the LTP?

There has been considerable work on the project since this decision, including concept designs, site investigations, theatre decommissioning, stakeholder engagement, demolition and other site works. A design and build contractor has been selected with detailed design work underway.

Following a Council decision in September 2021, further investigations were conducted to explore whether the Theatre Royal Stage house and the Back of House could be removed and rebuilt. Following these investigations, Council decided this option is too costly and not feasible.

Could the cost of the project be reduced?

The Project Team will work with the contractor when negotiations begin after developed design and to detailed design.  There is still opportunity to look at materials and the cost of supply over the next six months.

Why can’t the Theatre just be demolished and we start from scratch? What might this cost?

The Project Team explored this option early in 2021 and were requested to cost this option along with other options. Due to the increase in costs and objections from Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga (who would oppose this option due to the loss of a Historic Category 2 listed building), this option was discounted by Council.

Why is the removal and reconstruction of the stage house and changing rooms at the back of the Theatre Royal not one of the options?

Considerable work has occurred on the project since this decision, including concept designs, site investigations, theatre decommissioning, stakeholder engagement, demolition and other site works. A design and build contractor has been selected with detailed design work underway. Following a Council decision, further investigations were conducted to explore whether the Theatre Stage house and Back of House could be removed and rebuilt. Following these investigations, it has been determined this option is too costly and not feasible.

Will removing part of the Theatre compromise the rest of the building?

Structural engineers have advised that this would be a risk to the building, including any unforeseen costs once such work was undertaken and have advised against removing parts of the building where possible.  Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga are also against the demolition of parts of the building.  Removal of the Stage House and Changing Facilities would be risky, incur significant costs to stabilise the building and Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga have informed us they would oppose this through the resource consenting process.

Removal of the Changing Facilities does pose less risk, but is still risky and incurs costs.  Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga are still not entirely happy with this option though comment this is far better than including the Stage House removal.  At this stage they may still oppose this option.

What are the benefits of this project for the District?

This project once complete will enhance and enable arts and culture development across the district.  With the opening of the Theatre Royal, international, national and local shows and conferences and use of the theatre facilities will begin again.  The Heritage Facility will house a modern South Canterbury Museum built on international display standards with the ability to house and attract travelling international and national exhibition displays.

The intended investment of capital has already triggered development in the South of the Town Centre with buildings under maintenance and other sites due for development.  The rejuvenation of the South of Stafford Street will be the catalyst for the redevelopment of Stafford Street as a whole. Having a facility of this stature that is able to attract international and national exhibitions, shows and host functions and local community activities adds to the excitement and development of the area.

The Consultation

Why are we consulting?

Council made a decision in September 2022, following receipt of information and costings around the options being investigated to give the opportunity for the community to give their views on the options.

How will the results of this consultation be presented to Council?

Results will collated and presented to Council, including comments and submissions made. Submitters will also be given the opportunity to speak to Council if they choose.

Other Information

TheatreRoyalHeritagetimeline

Theatre Royal and Heritage Facility - Previous Work Project page

Last updated: 24 Nov 2022