175-yr-old Auckland society fights HQ lease

March 7, 2019

175-yr-old Auckland society fights HQ lease

Members of the AHC discussing the latest offer at the Chamberlain Park clubhouse, where they have been based for the past 40 years. From left: Diane Griffin, Lynn Brown, Graham Milne, and Andrea Blinman (out of picture is Jannene Alexander). Photo: Sehej Khurana

Seeds of discontent have been sown over replacement headquarters being offered to a 175-year-old Auckland community group by the local board.

The Auckland Horticultural Council (AHC) says it will fight Albert-Eden Board’s offer of a three-year lease of some rooms in the Western Springs community hall.

AHC’s secretary Diane Griffin says the new offer is not what was originally discussed.

“There was no mention of us only having part of the building,” she said.

The offer allows AHC to occupy the rear rooms of the centre and to rent the hall from the board, where their current annual fee of $575 covers hall usage.

The board has offered to pay the cost of four hours per month for the first year, an estimated $1920.

AHC provides educational resources and hosts events to encourage horticultural and home gardening practice. The hall is the only suitable space for its affiliated clubs’ meetings, presentations and shows.

Even with the refurbishments being offered by the board, Ms Griffin said there is not enough space.

“We would be unable to continue as we are without the hall in our complete control. What they are offering will not work for us,” she said.

In a statement released by the board, chairperson Peter Haynes said the offer is a good one.

“We’re spending a lot of money to provide refurbished premises that meet the AHC’s needs and with roughly the same amount of space,” he said.

Mr Haynes said there was never an offer in which the AHC had complete control of the hall.

The negotiations began in late 2015, when AHC were told their premises were identified as the preferred site for a community recycling centre.

AHC and the board planned to work together on the re-homing and the upcoming recycling centre.

Ms Griffin said the board had been unforthcoming and the process had been, “physically and mentally exhausting.”

She said AHC had worked closely with local bodies in the past but that this relationship had eroded.

Mr Haynes said that some members of the AHC had shown a “regrettable and unnecessary” animosity towards the board, though he wants to have a positive and collaborative relationship.

With their current lease of expiring July 31, AHC have pursued legal advice.

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