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Cultural hub . . . A concept design of the recommended main entrance to the Forrester Gallery, which will house the district's future cultural facility. GRAPHIC: MCKENZIE ARCHITECTS

Oamaru’s Forrester Gallery is to have a new main entrance when it opens as the district’s cultural facility.

Scheduled to be opened in July 2019, the $4.5 million facility will house the gallery, North Otago Museum and Waitaki District Archive.

The Waitaki District Council recently released a conceptual design of its preferred entrance to the gallery, between the south side of the building and Steam cafe.

Community service group manager Thunes Cloete said the concept was visually appealing, would entice people towards the entrance and would act as a “teaser” for people to enter the building.

At a meeting of the full council last Wednesday, councillors voted to proceed with the recommended plan for the side entrance, ahead of other options that included an entrance from Humber St and the existing main entrance in Thames St.

Only Cr Guy Percival voted against the recommendation.

“If this was the bee’s knees, why wasn’t this brought up initially?” he said.

He believed a side entrance would draw people away from the main street.

Cr Melanie Tavendale, who had argued for the Thames St entrance to be retained in the past, felt the design was a “really nice midpoint”.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said an entranceway of a similar design had proved successful at the Otago Museum.

“We have an alleyway down there and an opportunity to open that up and create a new level space through there so people can enter bang in the middle of the facility in front of the lifts and stairs and so on,” Mr Kircher said.

“You don’t have to go halfway through the building to do that.

“There is no perfect option, but what this does is keep most of the benefits of the Thames St or Humber St options. It doesn’t have the same disadvantages that each of those entrances have.”

The council was in negotiations with the owners of Steam about the entranceway.

Steam’s building and land was owned by the council, Mr Kircher said.

“We’re working with them on some exciting opportunities for them. I see it as benefiting their businesses and allowing us to make use of the space in between.”

He expected some of the cost, which was yet to be determined, was already part of the existing budget.

However, if extra funding needed to be found, he was “quietly confident” it could be added to funding applications that were pending approval, so there would be no impact on ratepayers.