Tuesday, April 23, 2024

$1.7m plan for Omaka aviation heritage centre takes flight

An expansion of Marlborough’s Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is set to take flight after Marlborough District Council’s Planning, Finance and Community Committee signalled its support for the project.

Councillors were tasked with considering a funding extension request from the New Zealand Aviation Museum Trust, which owns and operates the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, to allow them to expand and incorporate other periods of New Zealand and international aviation history, increase the space for events and improve visitor areas.

The Committee agreed, subject to full Council approval in April, to a contribution of up to $1.7 million by way of an underwrite or loan to be funded from a reserve, subject to an updated business plan from the Trust.

Council’s contribution will be subject to the Trust receiving confirmation of sufficient funding from the Lotteries Significant Project Fund and other fundraising to complete the project, and said any Council funding will not be released until it is satisfied that funding is in place for completion of the full project.

Mayor, John Leggett said that while the application should be dealt with as an Annual Plan submission and subject to that process, timing was an issue due to the Trust’s Lotteries grant application and the grant process.

“It’s a catch-22 situation in that the Trust requires Council support for Lotteries grant application to be considered, but Council requires the Lotteries grant to be successful before we can release any funding,” he said.

Planning, Finance and Community Committee Chair, Councillor Mark Peters also added that it is best practice when dealing with Council funds to take a conservative approach of checks and balances and the resolution allowed for that.

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre Chief Executive, Jane Orphan said the expanded Centre would be a “show stopper” for Marlborough.

“Not only will it enable additional aircraft to feature in the ‘Dangerous Skies’ exhibition, it will also fill the gap that currently exists in Marlborough for a larger capacity venue. “The expanded space will be able to comfortably cater for up to 900 people and offer a unique function experience,” Ms Orphan said.

“The development will also facilitate growth in the aviation sector presenting the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre with an opportunity to expand its current presence as an aviation influencer and as a hub that draws enthusiasts to our region,” she said.

Mayor Leggett noted that Council’s economic development and destination management plans identify Omaka as a key contributor to future visitation, the wider Marlborough economy and the future of classic aircraft storage, servicing and restoration.

He said Council funding for the expansion would not impact on this year’s proposed rates rise, which will soon be out for public consultation.

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